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i icon Museum of Natural History 

EXPANDING SUN BURNS UP EARTH — Presented by the Hayden 
Planetarium as one of several astronomical catastrophies that 
could some day end life on the Earth, here is an artist's concep- 
tion of what would happen to us under expanding energy of the 
Sun. For expiring energy of the Sun, see inside back cover. 


All Stories New and Complete 


Art Director: HENRY BECKER 

Cover by Anton Kurka, suggesting The Ultimate 
Re-sowing of the Human Race — 4000 AD 



YE OF LITTLE FAITH by Rog Phillips 32 


CHECK AND CHECKMATE by Walter Miller, Jr. 4 

THE STATUE by Mori Wolf 80 


THE LAST GENTLEMAN by Rory Magill 25 

SUCCESS STORY by Robert Turner 66 

THE PEACEMAKER by Alfred Coppel 70 

TIME ENOUGH AT LAST by Lynn Venoble 95 

THE ANGLERS OF ARZ by Roger Dee 103 
NO SHIELD FROM THE DEAD by Gordon R. Dickson 1 1 1 






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IF is published bi-monthly by Quinn Publishing Company, Inc. Volume 1, No. 6. 
Copyright 1952. Office of publication, 8 Lord Street, Buffalo, New York. Entered 
as Second Class Matter at Post Office, Buffalo, New York. Subscription $3.50 for 
12 issues in U.S. and Possessions; Canada $4 for 12 issues: elsewhere $4.50. Allow 
four weeks for change of address. All_ stories appearing in this magazine are fiction; 
any similarity to actual persons is coincidental. Not responsible for unsolicited art- 
work or manuscripts. 35c a copy. Printed in U.S.A. 


Next issue on sale January 7th 


WHEN WILL we have space travel? 

The year 1952 seems to be open 
season on that question. It's been 
the subject of articles in newspapers 
and magazines; whole volumes have 
been devoted to it; it has been dis- 
cussed over the radio and on your 
television screen. Many of the lead- 
ing scientists in America have had 
a whack at it. The pretty solid con- 
census is that we will have space 
travel, but as to when there seems 
to be a difference of opinion. Some 
authorities put it at ten years, 
others at fifteen or twenty, and still 
others say longer. 

The chances are that it will be 
longer — much longer. Probably not 
before the year 2000. Why? Be- 
cause there are too many elements 
involved other than the purely 
physical scientific evolvement of 
ways and means. First, let's consider 
the "tractor force" which has 

moved mankind through the ages, 
that which will move him on to 
another planet: that of dire physi- 
cal necessity, or the fundamental 
law of survival. 

MAN HAS always moved — or ex- 
plored — because he had to live. 
That's basic. Since the beginning of 
time, Man, singly at first and later 
in groups or nations, has ventured 
forth for the sustenance of life — 
food, clothing, raw materials, com- 
mercial intercourse, economic se- 
curity — and he has accomplished it 
through free exploration or war. As 
Man progressed, by supplying him- 
self with the basic requirements of 
life, he gave birth to thought — 
spiritual, cultural, philosophical, 
scientific, political, economical — 
which gave to the satisfaction of his 
animal hungers the veneer called 

Today Mankind has multiplied 
and explored and warred until it 
populates, in an alleged civilized 
state of mind, practically every 
known part of Earth — at least those 
parts which are habitable— eating 
off it, living off it, thinking off it 
and deriving varying degrees of 
comfort therefrom. And despite the 
plundered condition of that Earth 
today, there are still millions of in- 
habitable miles, and still enough 
wherewithall to sustain the human 
race for at least another century. 
So, the all-compelling, motivating, 
driving force to push Man off the 
Earth, that of animal survival, is 
lacking — at least for the present. 

A SECOND rather logical reason 

why we can't expect space travel 
before 2000 AD is universal political 
attitude. There's too much distrust, 
corruption, petty jealousy, nar- 
row-mindedness and lack of unity 
in national intercourse today. Inter- 
space travel is the invasion of one 
planet by another, and there's got 
to be at least a fundamental unity 
between the peoples of the earth 
if they are going to invade other 
worlds. It's too big a job for one 
guy to accomplish by himself in a 
dark room in his basement. Scien- 
tific experiments with rockets 
reaching toward space — propulsion, 
meteorological, survival — have 
been pressed for military purposes. 
Every major nation has its own 
rocket or guided missile project 
working night and day to get the 
jump on its fellow nations. The 
United States is the best equipped 
nation in the world to launch a 
space project, but the moment our 
enemies hear about it they're going 
to do everything in their power to 
knock it down. If our enemies got 
the jump, the United States would 
jolly well have to do the same thing. 
Perhaps space travel will be born 
during the next war — much as our 
rockets, jet propulsion and elec- 
tronic discoveries came out of the 
Second World War. Perhaps the 
Third World War will be one to 
determine which nation is to be the 
first to enter space. When that 
great, great war is over, the victor, 
if there be such, will be the ruler of 
Earth; there will be no one to con- 
test its right to the skies; and with 

what is learned and what is left, 
and with the cooperation of all, it 
can build ships to explore space and 
seek another planet. By that time it 
is very possible that such will be 
necessary — Earth having burned up 
the essentials of life. 

ANOTHER delay, of course, is 
money. It has been estimated that 
the cost to establish space transpor- 
tation, with outer planet contact, 
will cost billions of dollars. That's 
right — but how many of these as- 
tronomical denominations? The 
U. S. government is already 265 
billions in the red, and to success- 
fully establish space travel or 
planetary contact on any perma- 
nent basis will probably cost as 
much as the entire national budget 
for a year — how much is it running 
now? — fifty, sixty, seventy billions? 
Take that awesome mountain of 
cabbage and add to it the extra 
cost of the super-secrecy required 
today, the calculated costs of sa- 
botage, the cost of another war — 
and there you have it. 

YES, WE'LL HAVE space travel, but 
hardly before there is a basic neces- 
sity, a reasonable degree of world 
unity and a fabulous amount of 
money to back up the sweat and 
genius of science. Let's say, pretty 
soon. Perhaps fifty or sixty years. 
And that's a mighty short time 
away, almost infinitesimal, when 
you're setting up a million-year 
milestone in the whole history of 
mankind. — jlq 


Victory hinges not always on the mightiest sword, 
but often on lowly subterfuge. Here is a classic 
example, with the Western World as stooge! 

JOHN SMITH XVI, new Presi- 
dent of the Western Federation 
of Autonomous States, had made a 
number of campaign promises that 
nobody really expected him to ful- 
fill, for after all, the campaign and 
the election were only ceremonies, 
and the President — who had no real 
name of his own — had been trained 


Illustrated by TOM BEECHAM 

for the executive post since birth. 
He had been elected by a popular 
vote of 603,217,954 to 130, the dis- 
senters casting their negative by an- 
nouncing that, for the sake of 
national unity, they refused to par- 
ticipate in any civilized activities 
during the President's term, where- 
upon they were admitted (volun- 


tarily) to the camp for conscien- 
tious objectors. 

But now, two weeks after his in- 
auguration, he seemed ready to 
make good the first and perhaps 
most difficult promise of the lot: to 
confer by televiewphone with Ivan 
Ivanovitch the Ninth, the Peoples- 
friend and Vicar of the Asian Pro- 
letarian League. The President ap- 
parently meant to keep to himself 
the secret of his success in the diffi- 
cult task of arranging the inter- 
view in spite of the lack of any dip- 
lomatic contact between the na- 
tions, in spite of the Hell Wall, and 
the interference stations which 
made even radio communication 
impossible between the two halves 
of the globe. Someone had sug- 
gested that John Smith XVI had 
floated a note to Ivan IX in a bot- 
tle, and the suggestion, though lu- 
dicrous, seemed not at all unlikely. 

John XVI seemed quite pleased 
with himself as he sat with his staff 
of Primary Stand-ins in the study of 
his presidential palace. His face, of 
course, was invisible behind 'the 
golden mask of the official helmet, 
the mask of tragedy with its expres- 
sion of pathos symbolizing the self- 
immolation of public service — as 
well as protecting the President's 
own personal visage from public 
view, and hence from assassination 
in unmasked private life, for not 
only was he publicly nameless, but 
also publicly faceless and publicly 
unknown as an individual. But des- 
pite the invisibility of his expres- 
sion, his contentment became ap- 
parent by a certain briskness of 
gesticulation and a certain smug- 
ness in his voice as he spoke to the 
nine Stand-ins who were also body- 

guards, council-members, and ad- 
visors to the chief executive. 

"Think of it, men," he sighed 
happily in his smooth tenor, slight- 
ly muffled by the mask. "Commu- 
nication with the East — after forty 
years of the Big Silence. A great 
moment in history, perhaps the 
greatest since the last peace-effort." 

The nine men nodded dutifully. 
The President looked around at 
them and chuckled. 

" 'Peace-effort'," he echoed, spit- 
ting the words out distinctly as if 
they were a pair of phonetic speci- 
mens. "Do you remember what it 
used to be called — in the middle of 
the last century?" 

A brief silence, then a Stand-in 
frowned thoughtfully. "Called it 
'war', didn't they, John?" 

"Precisely." The golden helmet 
nodded crisply. " 'War' — and now 
'peace-effort'. Our semantics has 
progressed. Our present 'security- 
probe' was once called 'lynch'. 'So- 
cial-security' once meant a limited 
insurance plan, not connoting 
euthanasia and sterilization for the 
ellie-moes. And that word 'ellie- 
moe' — once eleemosynary — was 
once applied to institutions that 
took care of the handicapped." 

He waited for the burst of laugh- 
ter to subside. A Stand-in, still 
chuckling, spoke up. 

"It's our institutions that have 
evolved, John." 

"True enough," the President 
agreed. "But as they changed, most 
of them kept their own names. Like 
'the Presidency'. It used to be rab- 
ble-chosen, as our ceremonies im- 
ply. Then the Qualifications 
Amendment that limited it to the 
psychologically fit. And then the 


Education Amendment prescribed 
other qualifying rules. And the Ge- 
netic Amendment, and the Selec- 
tion Amendment, and finally the 
seclusion and depersonalization. 
Until it gradually got out of the 
rabble's hands, except symbolical- 
ly." He paused. "Still, it's good to 
keep the old names. As long as the 
names don't change, the rabble is 
happy, and say, 'We have preserved 
the Pan-American way of life'." 

"While the rabble is really im- 
potent," added a Stand-in. 

"Don't say that!" John Smith 
XVI snapped irritably, sitting 
quickly erect on the self-conform- 
ing couch. "And if you believe it, 
you're a fool." His voice went sar- 
donic. "Why don't you try abolish- 
ing me and find out?" 

"Sorry, John. I didn't mean — * 

THE PRESIDENT stood up and 
paced slowly toward the window 
where he stood gazing between the 
breeze-stirred drapes at the sun- 
swept city of Acapulco and at the 
breakers rolling toward the distant 

"No, my power is of the rabble," 
he confessed, "and I am their 
friend." He turned to look at them 
and laugh. "Should I build my 
power on men like you? Or the 
Secondary Stand-ins? Baa! For all 
your securities, you are still stooges. 
Of the rabble. Do you obey me be- 
cause I control military force? Or 
because I control rabble? The lat- 
ter I think. For despite precautions, 
military forces can be corrupted. 
Rabble cannot. They rule you 
through me, and I rule you through 
them. And I am their servant be- 

cause I have to be. No tyrant can 
survive by oppression." 

A gloomy hush followed his 
words. It was still fourteen minutes 
before time for the televiewphone 
contact with Ivan Ivanovitch IX. 
The President turned back to the 
"window". He stared "outside" un- 
til he grew tired of the view. He 
pressed a button on the wall. The 
window went black. He pressed an- 
other button, which brought an- 
other view: Pike's Peak at sunset. 
As the sky gathered gray twilight, 
he twisted a dial and ran the sun 
back up again. 

The palace was built two hun- 
dred feet underground, and the 
study was a safe with walls of 
eight-inch steel. It lent a certain air 
of security. 

The historic moment was ap- 
proaching. The Stand-ins seemed 
nervous. What changes had oc- 
curred behind the Hell Wall, what 
new developments in science, what 
political mutations? Only rumors 
came from beyond the Wall, since 
the last big peace-effort which had 
ended in stalemate and total isola- 
tion. The intelligence service did 
the best that it could, but the pic- 
ture was fuzzy and incomplete. 
There was still "communism", but 
the word's meaning had apparently 
changed. It was said that the third 
Ivan had been a crafty opportunist 
but also a wise man who, although 
he did nothing to abolish absolu- 
tism, effected a bloody reformation 
in which the hair-splitting Marxist 
dogmatics had been purged. He ap- 
pointed the most pragmatic men he 
could find to succeed them, and set 
the whole continental regime on 
the road to a harsh but practical 



utilitarian civilization. 

A slogan had leaked across the 
Wall recently: "There is no God 
but a Practical Man; there is no 
Law but a Best Solution," and it 
seemed to affirm that the third 
Ivan's influence had continued 
after his passing — although the 
slogan itself was a dogma. And it 
might mean something quite non- 
literal to the people who spoke it. 
The rabble of the West were still 
stirred to deep emotion by a thing 
that began, "When in the course of 
human events — " and they saw 
nothing incongruous about Ter- 
tiary Stand-ins who quoted it in the 
name of the Federation's rule. 

But the unknown factor that dis- 
turbed the President most was not 
the present Asian political or eco- 
nomic situation, but rather, the 
state of scientific development, par- 
ticularly as it applied to military 
matters. The forty years of non- 
communication had not been spent 
in military stasis, at least not for 
the West. Sixty percent of the fed- 
eral budget was still being spent for 
defense. Powerful new weapons 
were still being developed, and old 
ones pronounced obsolete. The sev- 
enth John Smith had even con- 
spired to have a conspiracy against 
himself in Argentina, with resulting 
civil war, so that the weapons could 
be tested under actual battle condi- 
tions^ — for the region had been 
overpopulated anyway. The results 
had been comforting — but John 
the Sixteenth wanted to know more 
about what the enemy was doing. 

THE HELL WALL— which was 
really only a globe-encircling 

belt of booby-trapped land and 
ocean, guarded from both sides — 
had its political advantages, of 
course. The mysterious doings of 
the enemy, real and imagined, were 
a constant and suspenseful threat 
that made it easy for the Smiths to 
keep the rabble in hand. But for all 
the present Smith knew, the threat 
might very well be real. He had to 
find out. It would also be a popu- 
lar triumph he could toss to the 
rabble, bolstering his position with 
them, and thereby securing his hold 
on the Primary, Secondary, and 
Tertiary Stand-ins, who were be- 
coming a little too presumptious of 

He had a plan in mind, vague, 
tentative, and subject to constant 
revision to suit events as they might 
begin to occur. He kept the plan's 
goal to himself, knowing that the 
Stand-ins would call it insane, dan- 
gerous, impossible. 

"John! We're picking up their 
station!" a Stand-in called. "It's a 
minute before time!" 

He left the window and walked 
calmly to the couch before the tele- 
viewphone, whose screen had come 
alive with the kaleidoscope patterns 
of the interference-station which 
sprang to life as soon as an enemy 
station tried to broadcast. 

"Have the fools cut that scatter- 
station!" he barked angrily. 

A Stand-in grabbed at a micro- 
phone, but before he made the call 
the interference stopped — a few 
seconds before the appointed time. 
The screen revealed an empty desk 
and a wall behind, with a flag of 
the Asian League. No one was in 
the picture, which was slightly 
blurred by several relay stations, 


which had been set up on short no- 
tice for this one broadcast. 

A wall-clock peeped the hour in 
a childish voice: "Sixteen o'clock, 
Thirdday, Smithweek, also Acci- 
dent-Prevention Week and Probe- 
Subversives Week; Happy 2073! 

A man walked into the picture 
and sat down, facing John Smith 
XVI. A heavy-set man, clad in cov- 
eralls, and wearing a red rubber or 
plastic helmet-mask. The mask was 
the face of the first Soviet dictator, 
dead over a century ago. John's 
scalp bristled slightly beneath his 
own golden headdress. He tried to 
relax. The room was hushed. The 
opposing leaders stared at each 
other without speaking. Historic 

Ivan Ivanovitch slowly lifted his 
hand and waved it in greeting. 
John Smith returned the gesture, 
then summoned courage to speak 

"You have translators at hand?" 

"I need none," the red mask 
growled in the Western tongue. 
"You are unable to speak my 
tongue. We shall speak yours." 

The President started. How 
could the Red know that he did not 
speak the Russo- Asian dialect? 

"Very well." The President 
reached for a prepared text and be- 
gan to read. "I requested this con- 
ference in the hope of establishing 
some form of contact between our 
peoples, through their duly consti- 
tuted executive authorities. I hope 
that we can agree on a series of 
conferences, aimed eventually at a 
lessening of the tension between us. 
I do not propose that we alter our 
respective positions, nor to change 

our physical isolation from one an- 
other, except in the field of high- 
level diplomacy and . . ." 

"Why?" grunted the Asian chief- 

John Smith XVI hesitated. The 
gutteral monosyllabic had been 
toneless and disinterested. The Red 
was going to draw him out, appar- 
ently. Very well, he would be frank 
— for a time. 

"The answer should be evident, 
Peoplesfriend. I presume that your 
government spends a respectable 
sum for armaments. My govern- 
ment does likewise. The eventual 
aim should be economy . . ." 

"Is this a disarmament propos- 

The fellow was blunt. Smith 
cleared his throat. "Not at the pres- 
ent time, Peoplesfriend. I hoped 
that eventually we might be able to 
establish a mutual trust so that to 
some extent we could lessen the 
burden . . ." 

"Stop talking Achesonian, Presi- 
dent. What do you want?" 

The President went rigid. "Very 
well," he said sarcastically, "I pro- 
pose that we reduce military ex- 
penses by blowing the planet in 
half. The halves can circle each 
other as satellite twins, and we'll 
have achieved perfect isolation. It 
would seem more economical than 
the present course." 

He apparently had sized-up the 
Peoplesfriend correctly. The man 
threw back his masked head and 
laughed uproariously. 

"The Solomon solution! ... ha 
ha! . . . Slice the baby in half!" the 
Stalin-mask chuckled. Then he 
paused to grow sober. "Too bad we 
can't do it, isn't it?" 



JOHN SMITH sat stiffly waiting. 
Diplomacy was dead, and he 
had made a mistake in trying to be 
polite. Diplomats were dead, and 
the art forgotten. Poker-game pro- 
tocol had to apply here, and it was 
really the only sensible way: for 
two opponents to try to cheat each 
other honestly and jovially. He was 
glad the Soviet Worker's Vicar had 
not responded to his first politeness. 

"Anything else, Smith?" 

"We can discuss agenda later. 
What about the continued confer- 

"Suits me. I have nothing to lose. 
I am in a position to destroy you 
anyway, a position I have occupied 
for several years. I have not cared 
to do so, since you made no overt 
moves against us." 

A brief silence. Bluff? Smith 
wondered. Certainly bluff. On the 
other hand, it would be interesting 
to see how far Ivan would brag. 

"I gather your atomic research 
has made rapid strides, for you to 
make such a boast," Smith ven- 

"Not at all. In fact, my predeces- 
sor had it curtailed and limited to 
industrial applications. Our weap- 
ons program has become uni-direc- 
tional, and extremely inexpensive. 
I'll tell you about it sometime." 

Smith's flesh crawled. Something 
was wrong here. The Asian leader 
was too much at his ease. His words 
meant nothing, of course. It had to 
be lying noise; it could be nothing 
else. A meeting such as this was not 
meant to communicate truth, but 
to discern an opponent's attitude 
and to try to hide one's own. 

"Let it suffice to say," the Red 
leader went on, "that we know 

more about you than you know 
about us. Our system has changed. 
A century ago, our continent suf- 
fered a blight of dogmatism and 
senseless butchery such as the world 
had never seen. Obviously, such 
conditions cannot endure. They did 
not. There was strong reaction and 
revolution within the framework of 
the old system. We have achieved 
a workable technological aristo- 
cratism, based on an empirical ap- 
proach to problems. We realize that 
the final power is in the hands of 
the people — and I use that archaic 
word in preference to your 'rab- 

"Are you trying to convert me to 
something?" John Smith growled 

"Not at all. I'm telling you our 
position." He paused for a moment, 
then inserted his fingertips under 
the edge of the mask. "Here is 
probably the best way to tell you." 

The Red leader ripped off the 
mask, revealing an impassive Ori- 
ental face with deepset black eyes 
and a glowering frown. The Presi- 
dent sucked in his breath. It was 
unthinkable, that a man should ex- 
pose himself to . . . but then, that 
was what he was trying to prove 
wasn't it? 

He kicked a foot-switch to kill 
the microphone circuit, and spoke 
quickly to the Stand-ins, knowing 
that the Asian could not see his lips 
move behind the golden mask. 

"Is Security Section guarding 
against spy circuits?" 

"Yes, John." 

"Then quick, get out of the 
room, all of you! Join the Secondar- 

"But John, it'll leave you fin- 



gered! If nine of us leave, they'll 
know that the remaining one is — " 

"Get on your masks and get out! 
I'm going to take mine off." 

"But John—!" 

"Move, Subversive!" 

"You don't need to curse," the 
Stand-in muttered. The. nine men, 
out of the camera's field, donned 
golden helmets identical to Smith's, 
whistled six notes to the audio-com- 
bination, then slipped out the thick 
steel door as it clicked and came 

The Red was jeering at him 
quietly. "Afraid to take off your 
mask, President? The rabble? Or 
your self-appointed Stand-ins? 
Which frightens you, President — " 

John Smith plucked at a latch 
under his chin, and the golden 
headdress came apart down the 
sides. He lifted it off and laid it 
casually aside, revealing a hard, 
blocky face, slightly in need of a 
shave, with cool blue eyes and 
blond brows. His hair was graying 
slightly at the temples, with a forty- 
ish hairline. 

THE RED nodded. "Greetings, 
human. I doubted that you 

"Why not?" growled Smith. 

"Because you fear your Stand- 
ins, as appointees, not subject to 
your 'rabble'. Our ruling clique 
selects its own members, but they 
are subject to popular approval or 
recall by referendum. I fear noth- 
ing from them." 

"Let's not compare our domestic 
forms, Peoplesfriend." 

"I wanted to point out," the 
Asian continued calmly, "that your 
system slipped into what it is with- 

out realizing it. A bad was allowed 
to grow worse. We, however were 
reacting against unreasonableness 
and stupidity within our own sys- 
tem. In the year 2001—" 

"I am aware of your history be- 
fore the Big Silence. May we dis- 
cuss pertinent matters — ?" 

The Asian stared at him sharp- 
ly. The frown grew deeper. The 
black eyes looked haughty. "If you 
really want to discuss something, 
John Smith, suppose we arrange a 
personal meeting in a non-walled, 
neutral region? Say, Antarctica?" 

John Smith XVI, unaccustomed 
to dealing without a mask, let sur- 
prise fill his face before he caught 
himself. The Asian chuckled but 
said nothing. The President studied 
the border of the teleview screen 
for a moment. 

"I shall have to consider your 
proposal," he said dully. 

The Peoplesfriend nodded curt- 
ly, then suggested a time for the 
next interview. Smith revised it 
ahead to gain more time, and 
agreement was reached. The screen 
went blank ; the interview was at an 
end. The Sixteenth Smith took a 
slow, worried breath, then slowly 
donned the mask of office again. He 
summoned the nine Primaries im- 

"That was dangerous, John," 
one of them warned him as they en- 
tered. "You may regret it. They 
knew you were in here alone. We're 
not all identical from the neck- 
down you know. When we come 
out, they might compare — " 

He cut the man off with a curt 
gesture. "No time. We're in a bad 
situation. Maybe worse than I 
guess." He began pacing the floor 



and staring down at the metallifiber 
rug as he spoke. "He knows more 
about us than he should. It took 
me awhile to realize that he's 
speaking our latest language vari- 
ations. A language changes idiom 
in forty years, and slang. He's got 
the latest phrases. 'Greetings, hu- 
man' is one, like a rabbleman says 
when somebody softens up." 


"Maybe a whole network. I don't 
see how they could get them 
through the Wall, but — maybe it's 
not so hard. Antarctic's open, as he 
pointed out." 

"What can we do about it, 

Smith stopped pacing, popped 
his knuckles hard, stared at them. 
"Assemble Congress. Security- 
probe. It's the only answer. Let the 
'Rabble's Parliament' run their own 
inquisition. They were always good 
at purging themselves. Start a big 
spy-scare, and keep it in the chan- 
nels. I'll lead with a message to the 
rabble." He paused, the tragedy 
mask gaping at them. "You won't 
like this, but I'm having the Stand- 
ins probed too. The Presidency is 
not immune." 

A muttering of indignation. 
Some of them went white. No one 
protested however. 

"No witch-hunt in this group, 
however," he assured them. "I'll 
veto anything that looks unfair for 
the Primaries, but—" He paused 
and rang the word again. " — but — 
there will be no leniency tolerated 
from here on down, if Congress 
thinks it's found a spy, it can exe- 
cute him on the spot — and I won't 
lift a finger. This has got to be 
rooted out and burned." 

He began to pace again. He be- 
gan barking crisp orders for spe- 
cific details of the probe, or rather, 
for the campaign that would start 
the probe. The rabble were better 
at witch-hunts than a government 
was. Congress had not been assem- 
bled for fifteen years, since there 
had been nothing suspicious to in- 
vestigate, but once it was called to 
duty, heads would roll — some of 
them literally. If some innocent 
people were hurt, the rabble could 
only blame themselves, for their 
own enthusiasm in ruthlessly 
searching out the underground en- 
emy. Smith couldn't worry about 
that. If an Asian spy-system were 
operating in the continent, it had 
to be crushed quickly. 

WHEN HE had outlined the 
propaganda and string-pulling 
plans for them, he turned to the 
other matter — the Red leader's 
boast of ability to conquer the 

"It's probably foolish talk, but 
we don't know their present psy- 
chology. Double production on our 
most impressive weapons. Give the 
artificial-satellite program all the 
money it wants, and get them mov- 
ing on it. I want a missile-launch- 
ing site in space before the end of 
the year. Pay particular attention 
to depopulation weapons for use 
against industrial areas. We may 
have to strike in a hurry. We've 
been fools — coasting this way, feel- 
ing secure behind the Wall." 

"You're not contemplating an- 
other peace-effort, John?" gasped 
an elderly Stand-in. 

"I'm contemplating survival!" 



the leader snapped. "I don't know 
that we're in serious danger, but if 
it takes a peace-effort to make sure, 
then we'll start one. So fast it'll 
knock out their industry before they 
know we've hit them." He stood 
frozen for a moment, the mask lift- 
ed proudly erect. "By Ike, I love 
the West! And it's not going to suf- 
fer any creeping eruption while I'm 
at its head!" 

When the President had finished 
and was ready to leave, the others 
started donning their masks again. 

"Just a minute," he grunted. 
"Number Six." 

One of the men, about the Presi- 
dent's size and build, looked up 
quickly. "Yes, John?" 

"Your cloak is stained at the left 
shoulder. Grease?" 

Six inspected it curiously, then 
nodded. "I was inspecting a ma- 
chine shop, and — " 

"Never mind. Trade cloaks with 

"Why, if—" Six stopped. His 
face lost color. "But the others — 
might have — " 


Six unclasped it slowly and hand- 
ed it to the Sixteenth Smith, ac- 
cepting the President's in return. 
His face was set in rigid lines, but 
he made no further protest. 

Masked and prepared, a Stand- 
in whistled a tune to the door, 
which had changed its combination 
since the last time. The tumblers 
clicked, and they walked out into a 
large auditorium containing two 
hundred Secondary Stand-ins, all 
wearing the official mask. 

If a Secondary ever wanted to 
assassinate the President, one shot 
would give him a single chance in 

ten as they filed through the door. 

"Mill about!" bellowed a Ser- 
geant-at-Arms, and the two hun- 
dred began wandering among 
themselves in the big room, a 
queer porridge, stirred clumsily 
but violently. The Primaries and 
the President lost themselves in the 
throng. For ten minutes the room 
milled and circulated. 

"Unmask!" bellowed the crier. 

The two hundred and ten 
promptly removed their helmets 
and placed them on the floor. The 
President was unmasked and un- 
known — unmarked except by a cer- 
tain physical peculiarity that could 
be checked only by a physician, in 
case the authenticity of the presi- 
dential person was challenged, as 
it frequently was. 

Then the Secondaries went out 
to lose themselves in a larger throng 
of Tertiaries, and the group split 
randomly to take the various un- 
derground highways to their homes. 

The President entered his house 
in the suburbs of Dia City, hugged 
the children, and kissed his wife. 

John Smith was profoundly dis- 
turbed. During the years of the Big 
Silence, a feeling of uneasy security 
had evolved. The Federation had 
been in isolation too long, and the 
East had become a mysterious un- 
known. The Presidency had oscil- 
lated between suspicious unease 
and smug confidence, depending 
perhaps upon the personality of the 
particular president more than any- 
thing else. The mysteriousness of 
the foe had been used politically to 
good advantage by every president 
selected to office, and the Sixteenth 
Smith had intended to so use it. But 
now he vaguely regretted it. 



THE TENURE of office was still 
four years, and he could not help 
feeling that if he had maintained 
the intercontinental silence, he 
would not have had to worry about 
the spy-matter. If the hemisphere 
had been infiltrated, the subversive 
work had not begun yesterday. It 
had probably been going on for 
years, during several administra- 
tions, and the plans of the East, if 
any, would perhaps not come to a 
climax for several more years. He 
felt himself in the position of a man 
who suffered no pain as yet, but 
learned that he had an incurable 
disease. Why did he have to find 

But now that the danger was 
apparent, he had to go ahead and 
fight it instead of allowing it to 
pass on to the next John Smith. 

He made a stirring speech to 
Congress when it convened. The 
cowled figures of the people's rep- 
resentatives sat like gloomy gray 
shadows in the tiers of seats around 
the great amphitheatre under the 
night sky; the symbolic torches 
threw fluttering black shadows 
among their ranks. The sight al- 
ways made him shiver. Their cowls 
and robes had been affected during 
the last great peace-effort, at which 
time they had been impregnated 
with lead to protect against bomb- 
radiation, but the garb of office had 
endured for ceremonial reasons. 

There was still a 'Senate and a 
House, the former acting chiefly as 
an investigating body, the latter 
serving a legislative function in ac- 
cordance with the rabble-code, 
which no longer applied to the Ex- 
ecutive, being chiefly concerned 
with matters of rabble morals and 

police-functions. Its duties could 
mostly be handled by mail and tele- 
viewphone voting, so that it seldom 
convened in the physical sense. 

President John quoted freely 
from the Declaration of Independ- 
ence, the Gettysburg Address, the 
MacArthur Speech to Congress, 
and the immortal words of the first 
John Smith in his Shall We Sub- 
mit? which began: "If thy brother 
the son of thy mother, or thy son, or 
daughters, or thy wife, or thy friend 
whom thou lovest, would persuade 
thee secretly, saying, 'Let us go and 
serve strange gods', neither let thy 
eyes spare him nor conceal him, 
but thou shalt presently put him to 

The speech was televised to the 
rabble, and for that matter, one of 
the Stand-ins delivered the actual 
address to protect the President 
who was present on the platform 
among the ranks of Primaries and 
Secondaries, although not even 
these officials were aware of it. The 
address was honestly an emotional 
one, not bothering with any at- 
tempt at logical analysis. None was 
needed. Congress was always eager 
to investigate subversion. It was 
good political publicity, and about 
the only congressional activity that 
could command public attention 
and interest. The cheers were rous- 
ing and prolonged. When it was 
over, the Speaker and the President 
of the Senate both made brief ad- 
dresses to set the machinery in mo- 

JOHN SMITH watchedthe pro- 
ceedings with deep satisfaction. 
But as time wore on, he began to 



wonder how many spies were truly 
being apprehended. Among the 
many thousands who were brought 
to justice, only sixty-nine actually 
confessed to espionage, and over 
half of them, upon being subjected 
to psychiatric examination, proved 
to be neurotic publicity-seekers who 
would have confessed to anything 
sufficiently dramatic. Twenty-seven 
of them were psychiatrically 
cleared, but even so, their stories 
broke down when questioned under 
hypnosis or hypnotic drugs, except 
for seven who, although constantly 
maintaining their guilt, could not 
substantiate one another's claims, 
nor furnish any evidence which 
might lead to the discovery of a 
well-organized espionage network. 
John Smith was baffled. 

He was particularly baffled by 
the disappearance of seventeen men 
in key positions, who, upon being 
mentioned as possible candidates 
for the probe, immediately van- 
ished into thin air, leaving no trace. 
It seemed to Smith, upon reading 
the individual reports, that many of 
them would have been absolved be- 
fore their cases got beyond the dep- 
uty level, so flimsy were the accusa- 
tions made against them. But they 
had not waited to find out. Two 
were obviously guilty of something. 
One had murdered a deputy who 
came to question him, then fled in 
a private plane, last seen heading 
out to sea. He had apparently run 
out of fuel over the ocean and 
crashed. The second man, an ord- 
nance officer at the proving 
ground, had spectacularly commit- 
ted suicide by exploding an atomic 
artillery shell, vaporizing himself 
and certain key comrades including 

his superior officer. 

Here, the President felt, was 
something really ominous. The dis- 
appearances and the suicides 
spelled careful discipline and plan- 
ning. Their records had been im- 
peccable. The accusations seemed 
absurd. If they were agents, they 
had done nothing but sit in their 
positions and wait for an appointed 
time. The possibilities were fright- 
ening, but evidence was inconclu- 
sive and led nowhere. Nevertheless, 
the house-cleaning continued. 

On Fourtliday of Traffic Safety 
Week, which was also Eat More 
Corn-Popsies Week, John Smith 
XVI conferred with Ivan Ivano- 
vitch IX again at the appointed 
time. Contrary to all traditions, he 
again ordered the Stand-ins — tem- 
porarily eight in number, since 
Number Six had died mysteriously 
in the bathtub — to leave the study 
so that he might unmask. Promptly 
at sixteen o'clock the Asian's face — 
or rather his ceremonial mask — 
came on the screen. But seeing the 
Westerner's square-cut visage smil- 
ing at him sourly,he promptly re- 
moved the covering to reveal his 
Oriental face. The exchange of 
greetings was curt. 

" I see by recent events," said 
Ivan, "that you are nervous on your 
throne. For the sake of your own 
people, let me warn you that we 
have no designs on your autonomy 
unless you become aggressive to- 
ward us. The real difficulty, as re- 
vealed by your purge, is that you 
feel insecure, and insecurity makes 
you unpredictable. I do not, of 
course, expect you to be trust- 
worthy. But insecurity sometimes 
breeds inpulsiveness. If you are to 



strike out blindly, perhaps the talks 
had best be broken off." 

Smith XVI reddened angrily but 
held his temper. The man's pre- 
sumption was intolerable. Further, 
he knew about the probe, knowl- 
edge which could only come from 

"I have become aware," the 
President said firmly, "that you 
have managed to establish a spy- 
system on this continent. If you 
wish better relations, you will have 
the activity stop at once." 

"I don't know what you're talk- 
ing about," said the Peoplesfriend 
with a bland smile. "I might point 
out however that at least forty of 
your spies are either killed while 
trying to cross the Wall, or are ap- 
prehended after they manage to 
enter my regime." 

"The accusation is too ridiculous 
to deny," Smith lied. "We have no 
desire to pry into your activities. 
We wish only to maintain the sta- 
tus quo." 

The exchange continued, charges 
and countercharges and denials. 
Neither side expected truth or hon- 
esty, and the game was as old as 
civilization. Neither expected to be 
believed, although the press of both 
nations would heatedly condemn 
the other's lack of good faith. The 
ethical side of the affair was for the 
rabble to consider, for only the rab- 
ble cared about such things. The 
real task was to ferret out the en- 
emy's attitudes and intentions with- 
out revealing one's own. 

SMITH FELT that he had won 
a little, and lost a little too. He 
had found many hints of subversive 

activity, but had betrayed his own 
lack of certainty by reacting so 
swiftly to it. Ivan IX, on the other 
hand, seemed too much at ease, too 
secure, and even impertinent. 

"At our last meeting," said the 
Asian, "I suggested a meeting be- 
tween ourselves. Have you given 
thought to the matter?" 

"I have given it thought," said 
the President, "and will agree to 
the proposal provided you come to 
this country. The meeting will be 
held at my capitol." 

"Which you change at random 
intervals, I notice," purred Ivan 
with a bland smile. "For security 

"You could only know that by 
espionage!" Smith snapped. 

"Your proposal of course is out- 
rageous. The only sensible place for 
the meeting is in Singapore." 

"That is out of the question. I 
must insist on the capitol of my 
government as the only acceptable 
meeting-place. My government in 
contacting yours put itself in the 
position of extending an invitation, 
a position from which we could not 
depart without loss of dignity." 

"I suggest we delay the matter 
then," grunted the Peoplesfriend. 
"And talk about the agenda for 
such a meeting. What did you have 
in mind?"- 

"I have already stated our gen- 
eral aims as being a reduction of 
armament expenses, beneficial to 
both sides. I think you agree?" 

"Not necessarily, since our bud- 
get is already rather low. However, 
make your specific proposals, and I 
shall consider them. Further econ- 
omy, where not injurious to secur- 
ity, is always desirable." 



"I propose, then, that we discuss 
a method whereby agreement 
might be reached on a plan to di- 
vulge the nature of our respective 
armaments, including number, na- 
ture, and purpose of each weapon- 
class, as a foundation for discus- 
sions relating to reductions." 

Smith waited for a flat "no" to 
the suggestion. The Asian leader 
apparently knew a great deal more 
about the West's armaments than 
Smith knew about the East. The 
Peoplesfriend had nothing to gain 
by revealing the military strength 
of his own hemisphere. But he 
paused, watching Smith with an 
expressionless stare. 

"I accept that for further consid- 
eration, at least," Ivan said at last. 

John XVI hovered between ela- 
tion and suspicion. Suspicion won. 
"Of course there must be some 
method to assure that accurate fig- 
ures are divulged." 

"That could probably be set- 
tled." _ 

Again the President was shocked. 
It was all too easy. Something was 
rotten about the whole thing. The 
Peoplesfriend agreed too readily to 
things that seemed to be to his dis- 
advantage. The discussion con- 
tinued for several hours, during 
which both men presented view- 
points and postponed agreement 
until a later meeting. 

"Stockpiles of fissionable mate- 
rial," said the President, "which 
could quickly be converted to 
weapons use should also be dis- 

Ivan frowned. "I mentioned be- 
fore that we have no need of atomic 
armaments, nor any plans for build- 
ing them. Our defense is secured by 

something entirely different, a 
weapon which serves an industrial 
function in time of peace, and a 
weapon which I might add was 
largely responsible for our aban- 
doning Marxism. A single discov- 
ery, Andrei Sorkin's, made com- 
munist doctrine not only a wrong 
solution, but a wrong solution to a 
problem that had ceased to exist." 

"What problem are you referring 

"The use of human beings as au- 
tomatic devices in a corporate ma- 
chine — the social-structure of in- 
dustry, in which the worker was 
caught and bolted down and ex- 
pected to perform a single, highly 
specialized task. That of course, is 
almost a definition of the word 
'proletarian'. We no longer have a 
true proletariat. For that reason, we 
are no longer Marxist — although 
the name 'communist' has survived 
with its meaning changed." 

The conference ended after set- 
ting the time for another meeting. 
John Smith XVI felt that he had 
been groping in the dark, because 
of the information-vacuum that 
kept him from even making a rea- 
sonable guess as to Ivan's real aims. 
He kept feeling vaguely that Ivan 
was just playing along, reacting ac- 
cording to the opportunity of the 
moment, not particularly caring 
what Smith did next. But leaders of 
states just did not proceed so care- 
lessly — not unless they were fools, 
or unless they were supremely con- 
fident in the ultimate outcome. 

analysis of his latest conversation 
with Ivan gave him something to 



think about later however. Andrei 
Sorkin had been a physicist who 
had done considerable work in 
crystal-structure before the Big Si- 
lence had cut off knowledge of his 
activities from the West. Further, 
the Peoplesfriend's references to in- 
dustrial usage, coupled with his re- 
marks about specialized labor, 
seemed to suggest that the East had 
made great strides in servo-mecha- 
nisms and auto-control devices. But 
control devices were not weapons 
in themselves. Electronic rocket- 
pilots were not weapons unless 
there were rockets for them to fly. 
Automatic target-trackers were not 
weapons unless they guided a weap- 
on to shoot at the target. It made 
litde sense; he concluded that Ivan 
had not meant it to make much 
sense. Smith could only interpret it 
as meaning: "Our weapons are 
marvelously controlled; therefore 
we need fewer of them." 

On the probe front, events were 
about as usual. The lists of suspects 
and convictions grew bulky enough 
to keep a large office staff busy with 
details. More sinister, in the Presi- 
dent's judgment, was the small list 
of suspects who vanished or com- 
mitted suicide at the slightest hint 
of suspicion. The list grew at a slow 
but steady pace. John assumed that 
these were certainly guilty. And 
thorough, searching inquiries into 
their past activities, were made. 
These post mortem probes revealed 
nothing. Their records were clean. 
Their families, friends, relatives, 
and even their ancestors were above 
suspicion. If they had sold out to 
the enemy, they had given him 
nothing in return for his wages ex- 
cept perhaps a promise to be ful- 

filled on a Deadline Day. 

He called the Secretary of De- 
fense and demanded a screening 
procedure be adopted for future 
personnel, a procedure which 
would be aimed at selecting men 
with fanatic loyalty, rather than 
merely guarding against treason. 

"We seem to already have some- 
thing," murmured the Secretary, a 
slender, graying gentleman with 
aristocratic features. "The inci- 
dents at the satellite-project seem 
to indicate that there's something 
they don't like about our ordinary 
testing methods." 

"Eh? How do you mean?" 

"Three men — volunteers for the 
project — vanished as soon as they 
found out that they had to submit 
to all the physicals, mental tests, 
and so forth. I don't know what 
they were afraid of. They were al- 
ready on the reservation. Found out 
they'd have to be tested again, and 
vanished. One a known suicide, but 
the body's still in the river." 

" 'Tested again'?" the President 

"That's right, John. They'd gone 
through it before. This was just a 
recheck for this particular project. 
Of course, I don't know that they 
were agents." 

"Mmm ! So they can't stand a re- 
check. All right, recheck every- 

"John! A third of the population 
works for the government!" 

"I mean everybody connected 
with new projects, the most impor- 
tant installations. This might be a 
weapon for us." 

When he received the Secretary's 
report a week later, John grinned 
happily. The rechecks had begun, 



and the disappearances were 
mounting. But the grin faded when 
he read the rest of it. Two of the 
men had been caught attempting 
to escape. They had been lodged in 
a local jail to await transfer to the 
capitol. During the night, the jail- 
er became aware of a blinding 
light from the cell-blocks and the 
stench of burnt organic matter. By 
the time he reached their cells, the 
men were gone, and there were 
only sickening fumes, charred ashes, 
and a pair of red-hot patches on 
the floor. Somehow they had gotten 
incendiary materials into their cells, 
and the cremation was complete — 
too complete to be credible. 

Then the disappearances began 
to taper off — until finally, after a 
few weeks, they ceased completely. 
He wondered : were the culprits all 
ferretted out, or had some of them 
managed to get around the re- 

He had spoken to the Asian lead- 
er several times, and Ivan was 
growing curt, even bitingly nasty at 
times. The President hopefully in- 
terpreted it as a sign that his probe 
was successful enough to worry the 
Red. He tried to strengthen his po- 
sition with respect to the proposed 
conferences, and made only minor 
concessions such as agreeing to a 
coastal city in Mexico as the site, 
rather than the shifting capitol. 
Ivan sneeringly made equally min- 
ute adjustments eastward from 
Singapore. There was apparently 
going to be a deadlock, and John 
was somehow not sorry. 

Then the cold-eyed face on the 
screen did an abrupt about-face, 
and announced, "I propose that 
the delegates, including the leaders 

of both states, meet at a site of your 
selection in either of the neutral 
polar regions, not later than Sev- 
enthday of Veto Week — which, I 
think is your Fried Pie Week? — 
and come prepared to discuss and 
exchange information relating to 
size of armament-inventories and 
future plans. This is my last pro- 

THEY STARED at each other 
coldly. John started to utter a 
refusal, then paused. Seventhday of 
... it was one day before the satel- 
lite program began moving into 
space. If he could keep the Eastern 
Leader tied up 'for a few weeks aft- 
erwards — 

"I'll consider your proposal and 
give you a reply tomorrow," he said 

The Peoplesfriend gave him a 
curt nod and clicked off the screen. 
John chuckled. The enemy's es- 
pionage program was evidently get- 
ing badly hurt. About one percent 
of the West's population had been 
executed, imprisoned, or shifted to 
other jobs as a result of the congres- 
sional probe. The one percent prob- 
ably included quite a few guilty 

"Rodner, I want a Strike-Day 
set, a full-scale blitz-operation 
readied as soon as possible," he told 
the defense-chief. "I know that a 
lot of your target information is 
forty years old, but work out the 
best plan you can. A depopulation 
strike, perhaps; there are only two 
opinions in the world, so 'world- 
opinion' is not one of the things we 
need to consider." 

The Defense Secretary caught his 



breath and sat stiffly erect. "War?" 
he gasped. 

"Don't use that word."- 
"Sorry, peace-effort." 
"No. At least I hope not. I want 
a gun aimed at them as a bargain- 
ing point. But I want it to be a 
damned big gun, and one that's 
capable of shattering every major 
city in the East on a few hours' 
notice. How effective could you 
make it — if you had to?" 

The Secretary frowned doubt- 
fully and tugged at his ear. "Well, 
John, our strategic command has 
kept a running plan in effect, re- 
vising it to allow for every tidbit of 
information we can get. Planning 
continental blitzes is a favorite past- 
time around high-level strategic 
commands; it keeps the boys in 
trim. A plan could probably be 
agreed upon in a very short time, 
but its nature would depend on 
your earliest deadline date." 

"Two dates," grunted the trag- 
edy-mask. "The first is Seventh- 
day, Fried Pie Week. I want a 
maximum possible effort readied by 
then, with a plan that allows for a 
possible stand-by at that date, and 
a continued build-up to a greater 
maximum — to be reached when the 
satellite station is in space and 
ready for battle. Include the station 
in the extended plan." 

"This is a very dangerous busi- 
ness, John." 

The mask whirled. "Do you pre- 
sume to — ?" 

"No, Sir. The strike-effort will be 
prepared as soon as possible." He 
bowed slightly, then left the presi- 
dential study-vault. 

Smith turned to gaze at his 
Stand-ins. "You will go," he said, 

"all of you, to the examining au- 
thorities for the standard loyalty 
tests and psych-phys rechecks." 

The nine masked figures glanced 
at one another in surprise, then 
nodded. There were no protests. 
The following day he had only 
seven Stand-ins; Four and Eight 
had been trapped in a burning 
building on the outskirts of the rab- 
ble city, and their remains had not 
been found. 

Smith kept a tight cork on his 
rage, but it seethed inside him and 
threatened to burn through as the 
time approached to speak again 
with Ivan Ivanovitch IX. The ene- 
my's infiltration into the very ranks 
of the Presidency robbed him even 
of dignity. Furthermore, now that 
the two scoundrels were uncovered, . 
and dead, he remembered a very 
unpleasant but significant fact: he 
had, even before his "election" by 
the rabble, discussed the teleview- 
phone conferences with the Pri- 
maries. The idea of contacting Ivan 
had started, as most ideas start, 
from some small seed or other that 
could scarcely be remembered, 
some off-hand reference to the cost- 
ly aspects of the Big Silence per- 
haps, and it had grown into the 
plan for contact. But how had the 
idea first come to him? Had one of 
the guilty Stand-ins perhaps 
planted the seed in his mind? After 
he proposed it, they had seemed de- 
murring" at first, but not too long. 
• Grimly, he realized that the idea 
might have originated on the far 
side of the Pacific. 

"Who, pray, is the potter, and 
who the pot?" he grunted, glower- 
ing at the nearest Stand-in. 

"I beg your pardon?" answered 



the man, who could not . see the 
glower for the mask. 

"Khayyam, you fool!" 


"Sixteen o'clock!" cheeped the 
timepiece on the wall. "Fifthday, 
Anti-Rabies Week, Practice-Eu- 
genics Week; Happy 2073; Peep!" 

IVAN CAME on the screen, but 
John did not bother to remove 
his mask. He sat down quickly and 
began speaking before any greeting 
could be exchanged. 

"I have decided to accept your 
last proposal. I specify the meeting 
place as the deserted weather sta- 
tion at the old settlement of Thar- 
viana in the Byrd-Ellsworth Sector 
of Antarctica. Date to be Seventh- 
day of Fried Pie Week. Advance 
cadres of personnel from both sides 
should meet at the side two weeks 
earlier to make repairs and prepa- 
rations. Do you agree?" 

Ivan nodded impatiently, his 
dark eyes watching the President 
closely. Smith went on to suggest 
limits for the size of both cadres, 
their equipment, and the kind of 
transportation. Ivan made only 
one suggestion: that the details, 
such as permissible arms and 
standards of conduct, be left to the 
cadre commanders to settle be- 
tween themselves before the lead- 
ers' parties arrived. 

"Your continual espionage ac- 
tivities," Smith said coldly, "do not 
recommend your government as 
one to be trusted in the matter of 
agreements without guarantees. My 
cadre commander will be instructed 
as to details." 

The Asian grunted. "You speak 

of trust, yet violate it in advance by 
preparing an assault against us." 

They glared at each other. After 
a few more words, the conversation 
ended abruptly, and the matter was 
tentatively settled. 

It was Antarctic Summer. The 
sun lay low in the north, but clouds 
threatened to obscure it, and a for- 
bidding coastline hulked under the 
ugly sky. A small group of ships 
sulked to the east, and watched an- 
other group that sulked to the west. 
Two rows of buoys marked an ice- 
free strip across the choppy face of 
the sea. 

A speck appeared in the north, 
grew larger, became a giant sea- 
plane. It circled once, then swooped 
majestically down between the 
rows of buoys, its atomic-fired jets 
breathing heat over the water. It 
slid between streamers of spray 
until slowly it came to a coasting 
halt and rode on the rise and the 
fall of the sea. A section of its back 
rolled open. It pushed a helicopter 
up into view. The helicopter un- 
folded its rotors, spun them, then 
climbed lazily aloft like a beetle 
that had ridden the eagle. It 
soared, and travelled inland. The 
sea-plane taxied west to join one 
group of ships. 

The helicopter landed near a 
long, windowless concrete building 
which lay in the shadow of an old 
control-tower's skeleton. The tower 
was twisted awry, and the concrete 
was pock-marked by shrapnel or 
bullets dating back to one of the 
peace-efforts. The President, two 
Stand-ins, and the pilot climbed 
from the helicopter. A small de- 
tachment of troops presented arms. 



The cadre commander, a major 
general, approached the delegation 
formally, gave it a salute, and took 
the President's hand. 

"The Peoplesfriend is already in 
the conference hall, Sir, with several 
of his aides. Do you wish to enter 
now, or- — " 

"Where are their troops?" 

"Over there, Sir. As you know, 
we could not agree to completely 
disarm the site. Only inside the 
building itself." 

"Any unpleasantness?" 

"No, sir. Their men. are well-dis- 

"Then let's go and get started. 
I assume that you're in constant 
contact with the capitol?" 

"Yes, Sir. Televiewphone relay 
chain all the way up." 

John looked around. The Peo- 
plesfriend's helicopter was parked 
not far away, and beyond it stood a 
platoon of the Peoplesfriend's 
troops, lightly armed as his own. 

An Asian and a Western guard 
flanked the entrance to the build- 
ing, but their only weapons were 
police-clubs. The party entered 
slowly and stood for a moment just 
inside the heavy door that swung 
closed behind them. John Smith 
removed his mask. 

"Greetings, human." 

THE DULL voice .called it from 
the far end of the gloomy hall 
where Ivan Ivanovitch IX sat fac- 
ing him, flanked by a pair of aides, 
at a long, plain table. John Smith 
XVI advanced with dignity toward 
him. Curt bows were exchanged, 
but no handshakes. The Western 
delegation took their seats. 

John nudged the Stand-in on his 
right, who immediately opened a 
portfolio to extract a sheaf of pa- 

"Would you care to exchange 
prepared statements to begin 
with?" Smith asked coolly. 

"We have no—" The Peoples- 
friend stopped, smirked coldly at 
his deputies but continued to frown. 
He peered thoughtfully at his huge 
knuckles for a moment, then 
nodded slowly. "A statement — yes." 

John slid a section of the sheaf of 
papers to the Peoplesfriend. The 
Red leader ignored them, spoke to 
a deputy curtly. 

"Give me a sheet of paper." 

The deputy fumbled in a thin 
briefcase, shook his head and mut- 
tered. Finally he found a dog-eared 
sheet with only a few lines typed 
across the top. He glanced ques- 
tioningly at his leader. Ivan 
snatched it with a low grunt, tore 
off the good half, produced a stub- 
by, gnawed pencil, and wrote slow- 
ly as if his hands were cramped 
with arthritis. John could see the 
big block-letters but not the words. 

"My prepared statement," said 
the Peoplesfriend. 

With that he pushed the scrap of 
paper across the table. John stared, 
and felt the blood leaving his face. 
The prepared statement said : 


"Is this a joke?" he growled, 
keeping his voice calm. "You can- 
not mean that you reject proposals 
before they are made? I fail to see 
the humor in — " 

"There is no humor." 

John pushed back his chair, 
glanced at his men. "Gentlemen, it 
would appear that we have come 



to the bottom of the world for 
nothing. I think we had better re- 
tire to discuss — " 

"Sit down," the Asian growled. 

"Why — " The President stopped. 
One of the Red deputies had pro- 
duced a gun. He sat, and stared 
coldly at the eastern leader. "Have 
your man dispose of that weapon. 
This is a conference table." 

The Peoplesfriend grunted an 
order to the other deputy instead. 
"Search them." 

"Stay back," Smith droned. "I 
can kill you all quite easily." 

The deputy hesitated. The leader 
started laughing, then checked it. 
"May I ask how?" 

John smiled. "Stay back, or you 
will find out too quickly." He un- 
zipped his heavy Arctic clothing, 
removed a heavy container, shaped 
to conform to his chest, and laid it 
on the table. A cord ran from the 
container into his sleeve. 

The Peoplesfriend laughed. 
"High explosives? You would not 
set them off. However — Jacob, let 
them keep their weapons. This will 
be over shortly." 

They glared at each other for a 

"There is no conference?" 

"There is no conference." 

"Then why this farce?" 

The eastern leader wore a tight 
smile. He glanced at his watch, be- 
gan counting backwards: "Seven, 
six, five, four — " 

When he reached zero, there was 
a long pause; then a sharp whistle 
from outside. 

"Your men are now disarmed," 
said the Asian. "Your cadre com- 
mander is ours." 

"Impossible! The recheck — " 

"He joined us since the recheck. 
Further, three of your teleview- 
phone stations in the relay chain 
are ours, and are relaying recorded 
broadcasts prepared especially for 
the purpose." 

"I don't believe it!" 

THE ASIAN shrugged. "In addi- 
tion, your entire defense system 
will be in our hands within six days 
— while your nation imagines that 
we are here conferring on disarma- 

"Ridiculous!" the President sput- 
tered. "No system of infiltration or 
subversion could — " 

"Your people were not subverted, 
Smith. They were merely replaced 
by ours. Your two Stand-ins, for in- 
stance, the ones that died in the 
fire. They were not the original 

"You could not possibly find 
exact doubles — " Something about 
the Asian's smile made his voice 
taper off. 

He picked up the container of 
explosives and prepared to rise. "I 
am going to walk out. And you are 
going with me. We will return in 
a helicopter to my plane. Let me ex- 
plain this mechanism. I have no 
control over the detonator, for it is 
not a suicide device. The detonator 
can be triggered only by either of 
two events." 

"Which are?" The Peoplesfriend 
was smiling. 

"The relay would be closed by a 
sudden drop in my arterial pressure. 
Or by an attempt to remove it with- 
out knowing how. I am going out, 
and you are going with me." 




"Because I am about to reach in 
my pocket and produce a gun. 
Your deputy cannot shoot without 
blasting a fifty-foot crater where 
this building now rests." Gingerly, 
while he watched the wavering 
deputy, he made good the promise. 
He kept the snub-nosed automatic 
aimed at the easterner's belly. 

But the Peoplesfriend continued 
to smile. "May I say something be- 
fore we go?" 

There was a sour mockery about 
it that made Smith pause. He 
nodded slowly. 

"I hoped to keep you here alive, 
so that we would not have to 
destroy the whole mission, includ- 
ing the ships. Of course, when the 
building is blown up, your little 
fleet will see and hear and try to 
respond, and we shall have to 
destroy it before word can be gotten 
to your capital. Our plans included 
that possibility, but it is unfor- 

"Our aircraft will — " 

"You do not seem to realize the 
nature of our weapons yet. And 
there is no harm in telling you now, 
I suppose." 


"We have a microscopic crystal- 
line relay, so small that millions of 
them can be packed into a few 
cubic inches. The crystals are 
minute tetrahedrons, with each 
pointed corner an _ electrical con- 
tact. And there is a 'method for ar- 
ranging them in circuits without in- 
dividual attention to each connec- 
tion. It involves certain techniques 
in electro-plating and the growing 
of crystals." 

Smith glanced questioningly at 
one of his Stand-ins, a weapons ex- 
pert. The man shook his head. 

"I can see," he muttered, "how 
it might replace a lot of bulky cir- 
cuit elements in some electronics 
work — particularly computers and 
servo-mech ani sms — but — ' ' 

"Indeed," said Ivan, "We have 
built many so-called 'thinking- 
machines' no larger than a human 

"For self-piloting weapons, I sup- 
pose?" asked the Stand-in. 

"For self-piloting weapons." 

"I fail to see how this could do 
what you seem to think." 

The Peoplesfriend snorted. "Ja- 
cob — ?" He nodded to the dep- 
uty, who immediately fumbled in 
his pocket, found a penknife, 
opened it, and handed it to Ivan. 

He laid his finger on the table. 
He cut it off at the second joint 
with the penknife. There was no 
blood. Flesh of soft plastic Tendons 
of nylon. Bones of bakelite. 

"Our leader," the robot said, "is 
still in Singapore." 

The President looked at the robot 
and a great, weariness swept over 
him. Suddenly it all seemed futile — 
a senseless game, played by mad- 
men, dancing over countless graves 
— playing tag among the tomb- 

Check and checkmate. But al- 
ways there was a way out. Never a 
final move. Life eternal and with 
life, the eternal plotting and schem- 
ing. And never a final victor. 

Almost regretfully, the President 
turned his mind back to the affair 
at hand. 

- THE END - 

No one knew, no one cared. For a great lethargy was 
overcoming the people and their only salvation was — 



By Rory Magill 

Illustrated by TED SPEICHER 

Jim Peters upright in bed. He 
sat there, leaning back on the heels 
of his hands, blinking stupidly at 
the wall. His vision cleared and he 
looked down at Myra, just stirring 
beside him. Myra opened her eyes. 

Jim said, "Did you feel that?" 

Myra yawned. "I thought I was 
dreaming. It was an explosion or 
something, wasn't it?" 

Jim's lips set grimly. After ten 
years of cold war, there was only 
one appropriate observation, and 
he made it. "I guess maybe this is 

As by common agreement, they 
got out of bed and pulled on their 
robes. They went downstairs and 
out into the warm summer night. 
Other people had come out of their 
homes also. Shadowy figures moved 
and collected in the darkness. 

"Sounded right on top of us." 

"I was looking out the window. 
Didn't see no flash." 

"Must have been further away 
than it seemed." 

This last was spoken hopefully, 
and reflected the mood of all the 
people. Maybe it wasn't the bomb 
after all. 

Oddly, no one had thought to 
consult a radio. The thought struck 
them as a group and they broke 
into single and double units again 
— hurrying back into the houses. 
Lights began coming on here and 

Jim Peters took Myra's hand, un- 
consciously, as they hurried up the 
porch steps. "Hugh would know," 
Jim said. "I kind of wish Hugh was 

Myra laughed lightly — a calcu- 
lated laugh, meant to disguise the 
gravity of this terrible thing. 
"That's not very patriotic, Jim. If 


The fifth "one" exploded in the Mexican desert. 



that was the bomb, Hugh will be 
kept busy making other bombs to 
send back to them." 

"But he'd know. I'll bet he could 
tell just by the sound of it." Jim 
smiled quietly in the darkness — 
proudly. It wasn't everybody who 
had a genius for a brother. A nu- 
clear scientist didn't happen in 
every family. Hugh was somebody 
to be proud of. 

They turned on the radio and 
sat huddled in front of it. The tubes 
warmed with maddening slowness. 
Then there came the deliberately 
impersonal voice of the announcer:' 

" — on the strength of reports 
now in, it appears the enemy 
bungled badly. Instead of crippling 
the nation, they succeeded only in 
alerting it. The bombs — at this time 
there appear to have been five of 
them dropped — formed a straight 
north-south line across western 
United States. One detonated close 
to the Idaho-Utah line. The other 
four were placed at almost equi- 
distant points to the south — the 
fifth bomb, according to first re- 
ports, exploding in a Mexican 
desert. We have been informed that 
Calas, Utah, a town of nine hun- 
dred persons, has been completely 
annihilated. For further reports, 
keep tuned to this station." 

A dance band cut in. Jim got up 
from his chair. "They certainly did 
bungle," he said. "Imagine wasting 
four atom bombs like that." 

Myra got up also. "Would you 
like some coffee?" 

"That'd be a good idea. I don't 
feel like going back to bed. I want 
to listen for more reports." 

But there were no more reports. 
An hour passed. Another and an- 

other. Jim spun the dials and got 
either silence or the cheerful 
blatherings of some inane disc 
jockey who prattled on as though 
nothing had happened. 

Finally Jim snapped the set off. 
"Censorship," he said. "Now we're 
going to see what it's really like." 

In the morning they gathered 
again in groups — the villagers in 
this little community of five hun- 
dred, and discussed the shape of 
things to come, as they visualized 

"It'll take a little time to get into 
action," old Sam Bennett said. 
"Even expecting it, and with how 
fast things move these days — it'll 
take time." 

"If they invade us — come down 
from the north — you think the 
government will let us know they're 

"You can't tell. Censorship is a 
funny thing. In the last war, we 
knew more about what was going 
on in Europe than the people that 
lived there." 

At that moment, old Mrs. Ken- 
dal fainted dead away and had to 
be carried home. Three men car- 
ried her and Tom Edwards was 
one of them. "Kind of heavy, ain't 
she?" Tom said. "I never thought 
Mary weighed much more than a 

That night the village shook. In 
his home, Jim staggered against the 
wall. Myra fell to the floor. There 
were two tremors — the second 
worse than the first. Then things 
steadied away, and he helped 
Myra to her feet. 

"But there wasn't any noise," 
Myra whispered. The whisper was 
loud in the silence. 



"That was an earthquake," Jim 
said. "Nothing to worry about. 
Might be one of the bomb's after 

The quake did ne great damage 
in the village, but it possibly con- 
tributed to old Mrs. Kendal's 
death. She passed on an hour later. 
"Poor old lady," a neighbor told 
Myra. "She was plain weary. That 
was what she said just before she 
closed her eyes. 'Hazel' she said, 
'I'm just plumb tuckered.' " 

The neighbor wiped her face 
with her apron and turned toward 
home. "Think I'll lie down for a 
spell. I'm tuckered myself. Can't 
take things like I used to." 

NOW IT WAS a week after the 
earthquake — two weeks after 
the falling of the bombs, and the 
town went on living. But it was 
strange, very strange. Art Cordell 
voiced the general opinion when 
he said, "You know, we waited a 
long time for the thing to happen 
— we kind of visualized, maybe, 
how it'd be. But I didn't figure it'd 
be anything like this." 

"Maybe there isn't any war," 
Jim said. "Washington hasn't said 


"But isn't that carrying censor- 
ship a little too far? The people 
ought to be told whether or not 
they're at war." 

But the people didn't seem to 
cue. A deadening lethargy had 
mi i led over them. A lethargy they 
felt and questioned in their own 
minds, hut didn't talk about, 
unK'h, Talking itself seemed to 
have become an effort. 

This continued weariness — this 
dragging of one foot after another 
— was evidently the result of radia- 
tion from the bombs. What other 
place could it come from? The 
radiation got blamed for just about 
everything untoward that hap- 
pened. It caused Jenkin's apples to 
fall before they were half-ripe. 
Something about it bent the young 
wheat to the ground where it mil- 
dewed and rotted. 

Some even blamed the radiation 
for the premature birth of Jane El- 
man's baby, even though such 
things had happened before even 
gun powder was invented. 

But it certainly was a strange 
war. Nothing came over the radio 
at all. Nobody seemed to care, 
really. Probably because they were 
just plain too tired. Jim Peters 
dragged himself to and from work 
in sort of a daze. Myra got her 
housework done, but it was a 
greater effort every day. All she 
could think of was the times she 
could drop on the lounge for a rest. 
She didn't care much whether a 
war was going on or not. 

People had quit waiting for them 
to come down from the north. They 
knew that the places where the 
bombs had fallen were guarded like 
Fort Knox. Nobody got in or out. 

Jim remembered the flash, the 
color, the rumors, the excitement 
of World War Two. The grim reso- 
lution of the people to buckle down 
and win it. Depots jammed. Kids 
going off to join. 

But nobody went to join this 
war. That was funny. Somehow 
Jim hadn't thought of that before. 
None of the kids was being called 
up. Did they have enough men? 



Washington didn't say. Washington 
didn't say anything. 

And the people didn't seem to 
care. That was the strange thing, 
when you could get your tired mind 
to focus on it. 

The people didn't care. They 
were too busily occupied with the 
grim business of putting one foot 
in front of the other. 

Jim got home one evening to find 
Myra staring dully at a small hand- 
full of ground meat. "That's a 
pound," she said. 

Jim frowned. "What do you 
mean? That little bit?" 

Myra nodded. "I asked for a 
pound of hamburger and Art put 
that much on the scale. In fact not 
even that much. It said a pound. I 
saw it. But there was such a little 
bit that he felt guilty and put some 
more on." 

Jim turned away. "I'm not hun- 
gry anyhow," he said. 

AT TEN that night, after they 
. were in bed, a knock sounded 
on the door. They had been in bed 
three hours, because all they could 
think of as soon as they had eaten 
was getting into bed and staying 
there until the last possible minute 
on the following morning. 

But the knock came and Jim 
went down. He called back up- 
stairs with more life than he'd 
shown in a long time, "Myra — 
come down. It's Hugh. Hugh's 
come to see us." 

And Myra came down quickly — 
something she hadn't done for a 
long time either. 

Hugh seemed weary and drawn, 
but his smile was the same. Hugh 

hadn't changed a great deal from 
the gangling kid who never studied 
mathematics in school but always 
had the answers. It came natural 
to him. 

During the coffee that Myra 
made, Hugh said, "Had quite a 
time getting here. Trains disrupted. 
All air lines grounded. But I 
wanted to see you again before — " 

"Then there is a war," Jim said. 
"We've been kind of. wondering 
out here. With the censorship we 
don't get any news and the people 
hereabouts have almost forgotten 
the bombs I guess." 

Hugh stared into his coffee cup 
for a long time. "No — there isn't 
any war." Hugh grinned wryly. "I 
don't think anybody in the world 
has got enough energy left to fight 

"There was one then? One that's 
over?" Jim felt suddenly like a fool, 
sitting here on a world that might 
have gone through a war stretching 
from pole to pole, and asking if it 
had happened as though he lived 
on Mars somewhere — out of touch. 
But that's the way it was. 

"No there wasn't any war." 

"You mean our government shot 
off those bombs themselves? You 
know I thought it was funny. Land- 
ing out in the desert that way like 
they did. 

"Old Joe would have hit for Chi- 
cago or Detroit or New York. It 
was silly to say bombs dropped on 
the desert came from an enemy." 

"No — the government didn't fire 

Myra set her cup down. "Jim, 
stop asking Hugh so many ques- 
tions. He's tired. He's come a long 
way. The questions can wait." 



"Yes — I guess they can. We'll 
show you where your room is, 

As she opened the window of the 
spare bedroom, Myra stood for a 
moment looking out. "Moon's cer- 
tainly pretty tonight. So big and 
yellow. Wish I wasn't too tired to 
enjoy it." 

They went to bed then, in the 
quiet home under the big yellow 
moon over the quiet town. A moon 
over a quiet country — over a weary, 
waiting, world. 

Jim didn't go to work the next 
day. He hadn't planned to stay 
away from work, but he and Myra 
awoke very late and it was then 
that he made up his mind. For a 
long time, they lay in bed, not even 
the thought of Hugh being around 
and all the things they wanted to 
talk about, could bring them out of 
bed until they felt guilty about not 
getting up. 

Hugh was sitting on the front 
porch watching the still trees in the 
yard. There was a breeze blowing, 
but it wasn't enough to move the 
leaves. Every leaf hung straight 
down, not stirring, and the grass 
seemed matted and bent toward the 

Myra got breakfast. She dropped 
the skillet while transferring the 
eggs to a platter but she got her 
foot out of the way so no harm was 
done. After breakfast the men went 
back outside. Jim moved automati- 
cally toward a chair. 

Then he stopped and frowned. 
Up straightened deliberately. He 
turned and looked at his brother. 
I li said, "Hugh. You're a man that 
knows. What s wrong? What did 
(hose bombs do to us? Tell me. I've 

got to know." 

Hugh was silent for a time. Then 
he said, "Feel up to a walk?" 

"Certainly. Why not?" 

They went to the edge of town 
and out into a pasture and stopped 
finally by a brook where the water 
flowed sluggishly. 

After a while, Hugh said, "Pm 
not supposed to tell anybody any- 
thing, but somehow it doesn't seem 
decent — keeping the truth from 
your own brother. And what dif- 
ference does it make — really?" 

"What's happened, Hugh." 

"There weren't any bombs." 

"No bombs." 

"It happened this way. Long be- 
fore this Earth was formed, a mil- 
lion light years out in space, a white 
dwarf died violently." 

"You're talking in riddles." 

Hugh looked up into the blue 
sky. "A dwarf star, Jim. So incred- 
ibly heavy, it would be hard for 
you to conceive of its weight. This 
star blew up — broke into five pieces 
and the five pieces followed each 
other through space. This world 
was formed in the meantime — 
maybe even this galaxy — we don't 
know. So the five pieces of heavy 
star had a rendezvous with a world 
unborn. The world was born and 
grew old and then the rendezvous 
was kept. Right on schedule. On 
some schedule so huge and ponder- 
ous we can't even begin to under- 
stand it." 

"The five bombs." 

"They hit the earth in a line and 
drove deep into the ground. But 
that was only the beginning. It all 
has to do with magnetism — the way 
they kept right on burrowing to- 
ward the center of our earth — 



causing the earthquakes — causing 
apples to fall from trees." Hugh 
turned to glance at Jim. "Did you 
know you weigh around six hun- 
dred pounds now?" 

"I haven't weighed myself 

"We checked and found out 
what the stuff was. We'd never seen 
anything like it before. That star 
was a real heavyweight. AH the 
pieces are drawing together toward 
the center of earth. But they'll 
never get there." 

"They won't." 

"We're doomed, Jim. Earth is 
doomed. That's the why of this 
censorship. We didn't want panics 
— mass suicide — a world gone 

"How's it going to come?" 

"If allowed to run its course, the 
world would come to a complete 
standstill. Nothing would grow. 
People would move slower and 
slower until they finally fell in their 
tracks and could not get up. Eternal 
night on one side of a dead planet 
— eternal day on the other." 

"But it's not going to happen?" 

Hugh's mind went off on another 
track. "You know, Jim — I've never 
been a religious man. In fact I've 
only had one concept of God. I be- 
lieve that God — above all, is a gen- 

Jim said nothing and after a mo- 
ment, Hugh went on. "Do you 

know what they do when they exe- 
cute a man by firing squad?" 

"What do they do?" 

"After the squad fires its volley, 
the Captain steps up to the fallen 
man and puts a bullet through his 
brain. The man is executed for a 
reason, but the bullet is an act of 
mercy — the act of a gentleman. 

"We are being executed for a 
reason we can't understand, and 
the bullet has already been fired, 
Jim. Another ten hours — eleven 

"What bullet?" 

"Look up there. See it? The 

Jim looked dully into the sky. 
"It's bigger — a way bigger." 

"Hurtling in toward us at ever 
increasing speed. When it hits — " 

Jim looked at his brother with 
complete understanding at last. 
"When it hits — we won't be here 
any more." 

"That's right. A quick, easy 
death for the world — from the bul- 
let fired by the Last Gentleman." 

They turned back toward the 
house. "Shall I tell Myra," Jim 

"What do you think you should 

"No — no, we won't tell her. 
We've got ten hours." 

"Yes — we've got ten hours." 

"Let's go home and have some 


It matters not whether you believe or disbelieve. 
Reality is not always based on logic; nor, partic- 
ularly, are the laws of the universe ... 

Ye of Little Faith 

By Rog Phillips 

Illustrated by TOM BEECHAM 

Henderson was most spectacular. 
It occurred while he was at the 
blackboard working an example in 
multiple integration for his ten 
o'clock class. The incompleted 
problem remained on the board for 
three days while the police worked 
on the case. It, a wrist watch and a 
sterling silver monogramed belt 
buckle, lying on the floor near 
where he had stood, were all the 
physical evidence they had to go on. 

There was plenty of eye-witness 
evidence. The class consisted of 
forty-three pupils. They all had 
their eyes on him in varying degrees 
of attention when it happened. 
Their accounts of what happened 
all agreed in important details. 
Even as to what he had been say- 

In the reports that went into the 
police files he was quoted with a 
high degree of certainty as having 

said, "Integration always brings 
into the picture a constant which 
was not present. This constant of 
integration is, in a sense, a variable. 
But a different type of variable than 
the mathematical unknown. It 
might be said to be a logical vari- 

The students were in unanimous 
agreement and, at this point, Dr. 
Henderson came to an abrupt stop 
in his lecture. Suddenly, an expres- 
sion of surprise appeared on his 
face. It was succeeded by an excla- 
mation of triumph. And he simply 
vanished from the spot. - 

He didn't fade away, rise, drop 
into the floor, or take any time van- 
ishing. He simply stopped being 

The police searched his room in 
the nearby Vanderbilt Arms Hotel, 
They turned a portrait of the miss- 
ing math professor to the 
newspapers to publish. Arbright 


He just wasn't there any more. 



University offered a reward of one 
hundred dollars to anyone who had 
seen him. 

The police also found a savings 
pass book in his room. It had a bal- 
ance of three thousand eight hun- 
dred and forty dollars, which had 
been built up to that figure by 
steady monthly deposits over a pe- 
riod of years. It also had a with- 
drawal of three hundred and twen- 
ty dollars two days before the dis- 
appearance. They were sure they 
were on the path to a motive. This 
avenue of exploration came to an 
abrupt end with the discovery that 
he had traded in his last year's car 
on a new one, and that sum had 
been necessary to complete the deal. 

After the third day the black- 
board had been erased and the 
classroom released for its regular 
classes. Police enthusiasm dropped 
to the norm of what they called leg- 
work. Finding out who the missing 
man's acquaintances and friends 
were, calling on them and talking 
to them in the hopes of picking up 
something they could go on. 

They passed Martin Grant by 
because they had heard from him 
in their initial work. In fact, he had 
been a little too present for their 

After ten days they dropped the 
case from the active blotter. The 
.University, seeing that there was 
little likelihood of having to shell 
out the reward money, increased it 
to five hundred dollars. 

But Martin Grant continued to 
ponder ovf-r a conversation he him- 
self had had with John Henderson 
during a dinner six weeks to the 
!day before his old friend had van- 

ished. He remembered his own 
words . . . 

". . . and so you see, John, by 
following this trail, I've arrived at 
a theory that has to do with the 
basic nature of the universe — of all 
reality. Yet things don't behave as 
they would if my theory were oper- 

John Henderson frowned into 
space, disturbed. Visibly disturbed. 
Martin watched him with a twinkle 
in his eyes. 

"You must have gone off the 
track on it somewhere, Martin," 
John said suddenly, as though try- 
ing more to convince himself than 
his listener. 

Martin shook his head with slow 
positiveness. "You followed every 
step. We spent four hours on it." 
He took pity on his friend. "Don't 
let it bother you. I regard it as just 
an intellectual curiosity. I've in- 
cluded it in my next book on that 

A new voice broke in. "What is 
it, Dad? One of your ten- thousand- 
word shaggy dog jokes?" This from 
Fred Grant, 16, student in the sen- 
ior grade at the Hortense Barthol- 
emew High School, and an only 
child of Martin Grant. 

"A little more respect toward 
your father," Martin said with 
much sternness. 

"Yes, Father." 

"It was my theory." 

John Henderson said, "But, Mar- 
tin, I don't know what to think 
now. Of course there must be some 
fallacy that I've missed. The way 
things stand though, I — " He 
chuckled uncomfortably. "I begin 
to doubt myself. I can't quite classi- 



fy it as an intellectual curiosity." 

"What else can you do with it?" 
Martin said. "I know your trouble. 
It's a common one. You have a ten- 
dency to believe things or disbe- 
lieve them. Now you've been pre- 
sented with something your intel- 
lect demands that you believe, 
while your experience shouts, 'lie'." 
"Is Fred able to understand it?" 
Jqhn asked, smiling at the young- 
ster with fond and unconscious con- 

"Not yet," Fred smiled. "I'm 
still in high school." 

"And if you don't want to flunk 
out you'd better be off to bed at 
once," Martin told him. 

"Yes, Father. Good night, Dr. 

Fred's departure left a vacuum in 
the conversation that took a min- 
ute to fill. John Henderson frowned 
himself back to where he had been 
before the boy had arrived. When 
he got there he frowned even more, 
because it was a state of mental 
confusion that seemed to have no 
way of being resolved. 

"Maybe we can get at it this 
way," he said. "Let's postulate that 
your theory is the only logical basis 
on which reality can rest. B, quite 
obviously reality does not rest on 
this basis. We could make G, there- 
fore, that reality doesn't rest on a 
logical basis. But that doesn't seem 
to satisfy me. Maybe C could be — 
no — " He glanced at his watch, 
lifted his eyebrows and stood up. "I 
really didn't know it was so late. 
I'll have to be going, Martin. An 
eight o'clock lecture in the morn- 

Martin made a wry face. 
"You've awakened my own con- 

science. I have an hour or two of 
work yet before bedtime." 

The two men went to the front 
door. John said, "Thank your wife 
again for me. Wonderful dinner. 
You're lucky, Martin, to have such 
a good cook." 

THAT HAD BEEN six weeks be- 
fore John Henderson vanished. 
Martin Grant mentioned this visit 
to Horace Smith, one of the teach- 
ers in his department, and got him- 
self and his wife invited for dinner 
on the following Friday. Dinner 
over, the two professors retired to 
the library. 

Two and a half hours later Hor- 
ace had assimilated an*$ grasped 
every detail of the theory. He then 
leaned back in his chair and closed 
his eyes, fingertips to temples, try- 
ing to find some flaw. Finally he 
shook his head. "It's no use," he 
said. "Your theory is logically ines- 
capable. But — " He frowned. 
"Where does that place us? Prob- 
ably where some schools of thought 
have always suspected we would 
wind up eventually. With the rea- 
lization that the basic laws of the 
universe can't be reached by logic 
or even by experiment based upon 

"I wouldn't say that," Martin 
objected. "My theory is an intellec- 
tual curiosity, that's all. That's the 
way I present it in my latest book. 
By the way, it's coming out soon. 
Signed the contract a month ago." 
He pulled his thoughts back to the 
conversation. "After all, one must 
hold onto the pragmatic approach 
to reality. Here is a theory that 
logic says must be the only possible 



way a universe can be constructed 
and operate. It's beautiful and log- 
ically complete, but not applicable. 
No pragmatic value." 

"Congratulations on the book. 
But, damn it," Horace said, "it at- 
tacks my most basic faith. Logic. 

"Faith?" Martin e c ho e d , 

amused. "Yes, perhaps you're right. 

That's a word that's foreign to my 

thinking. Belief is so unnecessary." 

"You don't mean that." 

"But I do." 

Horace pondered. "I can prove 
otherwise. You believe — as an ex- 
ample — that your wife is faithful to 
you." It was a statement rather 
than a question. 

"As a matter of fact — I don't. I 
act upon the greater probability 
that she is. I don't hire detectives 
to follow her. Nor do I throw her 
into situations to test her faithful- 
ness. I admit the possibility that 
she's unfaithful to me. If evidence 
came that she was, I might confront 
her with the evidence. Where does 
belief become necessary?" 

"Do you believe your son will be- 
come a success in life?" Horace 

"No. I've done everything I 
could think of to increase the prob- 
ability that he will. One of the 
things I've done is to instill in him 
the realization that belief is un- 
necessary in thinking. Surely, as a 
si ii ntist, you realize that nothing 
vi- vise in science finds its value Or 
v ilulity from human belief. If, to- 
il i row, evidence were brought 
liith that trigonometry is based on 
i .1 M.icy I'm Mire that mathemati- 
cs hi would use that evidence to 
nvisc their entire field." 

"But belief is instinctive; as in- 
stinctive as thought itself." 

"I admit it's a natural way of 
thinking. It has to be weeded out." 

"So you're sure you don't believe 
in anything," Horace said slyly. 

"Such statements are verbal 
traps," Martin said. "They mean 
nothing. You want me to imply 
that I believe I believe nothing, and 
therefore I have at least one be- 
lief. But as a matter of fact I've 
built up a sort of mental mecha- 
nism for discovering beliefs in my 
thinking and dispelling them by go- 
ing to the roots and showing myself 
why I believed. Belief springs up in 
the mind like weeds in a garden. 
Constant weeding is the only so- 
lution." He glanced at his watch 
and frowned uneasily. "Eleven 
o'clock. We'd better break this up 
and join the women. We'll have to 
get together again soon. By the way, 
do you and your wife play Canasta? 
My wife loves it." 

They had been moving toward 
the door. Now they entered the liv- 
ing room, to find the two women 
playing the game. 

"Time we were going, dear," 
Martin said. "And sometime soon 
make plans to have Horace and 
Ethel over for an evening of four- 
handed Canasta." 

At the front door vows of an 
early reunion were repeated. But 
they were never to be fulfilled. On 
the following Tuesday Horace 

THIS TIME there were no actual 
eye witnesses. The time was 
somewhere between seven and sev- 
en-ten Tuesday morning; the 



place; Horace Smith's bathroom. 

Ethel Smith was in the kitchen 
preparing breakfast. Horace was 
in the bathroom. He called out, 
"Ethel! I've got it!" 

"What have you got?" 

But even as Ethel called out, she 
heard the sound of the electric 
razor falling to the tile floor, and 
there was no answer from the bath- 
room. Nothing but silence and, as 
she described it later, a feeling that 
she was alone in the house. 

At the time, however, she wasn't 
alarmed. She half expected some 
muttered profanity over the drop- 
ping of the razor. She didn't wait 
for it exactly. Instead, she picked 
up the spatula and expertly 
scooped the eggs onto their two 
plates and carried them to the 
breakfast nook. Next she poured 
the coffee. Then, placing some 
bread in the toaster, she started 
back to the stove, calling, "Come 
and get it, Horace!" 

At the stove she started to pick 
up the aluminum dish containing 
the bacon. She paused and repeat- 
ed her call. "Horace!" 

It wasn't until then that it oc- 
curred to her the falling of the ra- 
zor might have been an ominous 
sound. Her mind filled with wor- 
ried images, she rushed out of the 
kitchen into the hall leading to the 

The door was locked. 

"Horace!" she called. "Are you 
. all right?" When there was no an- 
swer she pounded on the door. 
"Horace! Speak to me!" 

After that she ran outside and 
around to the bathroom window. 
It was shut and locked, as she al- 
ready knew. Not only that, it had 

been stuck for years. 

With an urgency born of a reali- 
zation that every second might 
mean the difference between life 
and death, she ran back into the 
house and called the fire depart- 
ment. Also the family doctor. 

By nine-thirty the police had 
been called in. By eleven o'clock 
they had seen the parallel between 
this disappearance and that of 
John Henderson. 

Martin Grant's first reaction was 
concern for Ethel. His second reac- 
tion was that, twice, he had pre- 
sented his theory to someone and 
that person had vanished. His third 
was accompanied by a twinge of 
fear. He had just finished present- 
ing his theory to the senior physics 

This was followed by an amaz- 
ing realization. He was conceding 
that there might be a connection 
between his theory and the disap- 
pearances. He laughed it off, but it 
returned. It disturbed him. 

It continued to bother him on 
Wednesday, so he began to search 
his mind for reasons. Eventually he 
found them. There was a distinct 
analogy between a theory that 
didn't agree with observable real- 
ity, and a pair of disappearances 
which violated known methods of 

The analogy was so clear that he 
began to feel there might be a func- 
tional relation between the two. Of 
course, he concluded, it would be 
reasonably certain if a large num- 
ber of the students in the senior 
group were to vanish also. 

This intellectual conclusion be- 
came an anxiety neurosis. 

So, on Wednesday — after he had 



scanned the room anxiously to see 
how many students were absent 
and discovered to his intense re- 
lief that they were all there; — he 
spent the full hour lecturing on the 
necessity — the vital necessity — of 
unbelief in all things, especially 
scientific theories. 

But would it work? He vaguely 
remembered giving Horace a simi- 
lar lecture. 

Wednesday night just before re- 
tiring he had another disturbing 
thought. He had explained the 
theory to his son. But that had been 
weeks before, and Fred was steeped 
in the mechanism of unbelief. Good 
thing, or he might have been the 
first to disappear. 

"What's the matter with you, 
Martin? Can't you even answer 
when — " The rest of what his wife 
was saying faded in the startled rea- 
lization that he was eating dinner. 

"Sorry, dear," he murmured. "I 
was thinking." He was trying to re- 
call something that might tell him 
what day it was. It was obviously 
evening or they wouldn't be eating 
dinner. "Uh," he said casually, 
"what day is today?" 

"Saturday," Fred said. 

"Now Fred, don't tease your 
father about his absent-minded- 
ness. This is Thursday." 

Thursday! That was right. He 
had given the lecture on the neces- 
sity of unbelief today. There was 
tomorrow, when he could see if any 
of the class had disappeared yet. 
He couldn't be certain, of course. 
Just In cause a student didn't show 
up didn't mean he or she had van- 

He fixed his eyes on Fred, across 
the table, and smiled. Fred, at least, 

was a source of comfort. He knew 
the theory and hadn't vanished. 

"Dad," Fred said. "I've been 
wondering if you saw a point of 
similarity in the two disappear- 

Martin thought, good heavens, 
does he have any inkling of what 
I've been thinking? Of course not! 
He's just fumbling. Better to dis- 
courage him. "Sorry, son. There 
aren't any similarities except acci- 
dental ones. I've had the confidence 
of the police on this. The cases are 
quite unrelated." 

Fred refused to be sidetracked. 
"Dr. Henderson's face lit up as 
though a sudden idea had struck 
him. I talked with some of his stu- 
dents. That's what they all thought. 
And Horace Smith shouted to his 
wife, 'Ethel! I've got it!' Thenext 
instant in each case they vanished 
into thin air." 

"But that doesn't mean a thing." 

IN THE PRIVACY of his study 
Martin Grant allowed himself to 
become excited. Fred had unwit- 
tingly come upon the vital clue to 
the two disappearances. 

"Let's be clear about this," he 
said to himself, drumming on his 
desk nervously with his fingers. 
"Undoubtedly there's a connection 
between the vanishing and my 
theory. Both Horace and John ar- 
rived at something I've missed. And 
since my theory is exhaustive it 
can't be there. It must be — yes — it 
must be that they went a step far- 
ther." He pondered this a moment 
and added grudgingly, "A step I 
have missed." Then even more 
grudgingly, "An obvious step." 



Automatically he opened a draw- 
er and brought out a sheet of paper 
and a pencil. He wrote : 

The theory contains within itself 
the proof that the universe must, 
by logical necessity, be constructed 
according to said theory. But ob- 
servation and experience say this is 
not true. 

He frowned at what he had writ- 
ten. This was the conclusion to 
which he had led both men. It was 
the conclusion upon which he had 
rested. They, obviously, had not 
rested there. They had gone on. 

Under what he had written he 
wrote "Either:" on the left hand 
margin. Two inches under it he 
wrote, "Or:" Then he frowned at 
them. Suddenly he began writing 
rapidly after the Either: "The uni- 
verse is not constructed according 
to logical necessity." 

He hesitated, studying what he 
had written. Then, pursing his lips, 
he slowly wrote after the Or: "the 
observable universe is not the uni- 

He nodded to himself. That hit 
at the core of the matter. A was X. 
B was not X. Therefore B was not 
A. Even though A and B were both 
called universe. 

The question was, then — did the 
universe-of -logical-necessity exist? 
If so, what relationship did it have 
to the observable universe which 
quite obviously did exist? 

Was that the question, the an- 
swer to which, gained in a moment 
of insight, had caused two men to 
utterly vanish? 

He sighed with real regret. There 
was no way of knowing. Possibly a 
mechanical brain of the most ad- 
vanced type could come out with 

a comprehensive picture after solv- 
ing thousands of successive equa- 
tions. Knowledge of simple basics 
was a far cry from a fully expand- 
ed system. 

He pushed the sheet of paper 
away with a show of irritation. He 
was missing something. He was on 
the wrong track. Neither John nor 
Horace had the mental equipment 
to make more than a simple step 
beyond what he had accomplished. 
That was certain. It was equally 
certain that he could and would 
make it. 

A startled expression appeared 
on his face. "Oh good lord!" he 
groaned. "My book. I must do 
something about that the first thing 
tomorrow. I — " He opened the 
drawer of his desk and took out an 
oblong of paper, the check against 
advance royalties. "I'll return this 
and not let them publish it. First 
thing in the morning. And from 
now on I resolve not to think of 
my theory or what caused John and 
Horace to vanish." 

Folding the check neatly, he 
stuck it in his billfold and then 
started to read a book that inter- 
ested him. He became engrossed in 
it. Half an hour later he came to 
enough to realize he was on safe" 
ground, sigh with relief, and sink 
back into the trains of thought of 
the book. 

It was a nice feeling to know he 
was safe. 

IT WAS FRIDAY. The sun was 
shining brightly and the monot- 
ony of the blue sky was relieved 
here and there by filmy white 
clouds that gave it a pleasing three- 




But to Martin Grant there was 
something unreal about things. He 
decided it must be the light. Things 
stood out with too sharp clarity. 

When he reached his office at 
the university he made arrange- 
ments for a substitute to take his 
ten o'clock class. Then he called 
the publishing company and made 
an appointment for ten-fifteen. 

The hour from nine to ten 
seemed interminably long. He 
found it almost impossible to con- 
centrate on such an unimportant 
subject as the application of tensor 
analysis to electronic circuits. 

Ten o'clock came. He hurried to 
the parking lot and got in his car. 
It was real and comforting. But 
once again everything outside the 
windshield seemed too sharply de- 

He timed himself on the way 
across town to the publishing house. 
He would have to allow himself 
the same time to return for his 
eleven o'clock class. It took twelve 
minutes, plus another two to find a 
parking place. Two minutes from 
the car to the eleventh floor. He 
was frowning at his watch as he en- 
tered the publisher's office. 

"Well well, Dr. Grant! Glad to 
sec you. I suppose you're anxious to 
see your book ready for market. It's 
coining very well. Just came back 
from the typesetters and is going 
into its first printing right away." 

"Huh?" Martin said, completing 
his mental arithmetic and jerking 
into an awareness of his surround- 
in i's. "Oh. hello Mr. Browne," he 
si i, I "I just figuring my time. 
I . ive an eleven o'clock class. I can 
only stay twenty-seven minutes. 

That gives me a three minute mar- 
gin of error for traffic delays." 

"I see," the publisher said, a 
twinkle in his eye. "As I was just 
saying, your book — " 

"Oh yes, my book," Martin in- 
terrupted. "Just a minute." He took 
out his billfold and extracted the 
check, handing it to Mr. Browne. 

"What's this for?" Mr. Browne 
asked, unfolding it. "Oh, the ad- 
vance royalty check. Is something 
wrong with it?" 

"I'm returning it," Martin said. 
"I can't let you publish my book." 

"Can't let me publish it!" 
Browne exclaimed. "Why not? 
Don't tell me it infringes on some- 
one else's copyright!" 

"No. Nothing like that. I've 
merely decided I don't want it pub- 
lished. I'm returning your check." 

"Well now, look!" Browne said. 
"We're a business establishment. 
You signed a contract. We signed 
one too. It protects both of us 
against just this sort of thing, you 
know." He studied Martin thought- 
fully. "Sit down and relax," he in- 
vited. "I'm human. Tell me why 
you don't want it published. May- 
be I might agree with you. We have 
over a thousand dollars tied up al- 
ready in typesetting, but — " 

Martin took the seat and glanced 
nervously at his watch to make sure 
the twenty-seven minutes hadn't 

"I've just changed my mind," he 
said curtly. "There are certain 
things — I'm the head of a depart- 
ment, you know. I must watch my 
reputation. That's it, my reputa- 
tion. On due reflection I believe the 
book might hurt my standing." 

"In what way?" Browne asked. 



"To tell you the truth, your other 
book did so well I didn't bother 
reading this one." 

"There's a — " Martin brought 
himself up short. So Browne hadn't 
read it. So much the better. At 
least he wouldn't vanish. "I'm 
afraid,'' he added with a self-con- 
scious chuckle that he hoped was 
genuine enough to pass, "the sub- 
ject matter is a little too crackpot- 
tish in spots. That's the whole 
thing. It would reflect on my repu- 

"Maybe we could do a little 
editing on it," Browne said. "Cut 
out the parts you think crackpottish 
and substitute something else in 
those pages. I'll get the galleys and 
we can look at them." 

"No!" Martin said. "No, I'm 
afraid we would have to cut out at 
least half of the book. No. The best 
thing is to forget it, but I'll make 
good your typesetting loss. I can 
pay you two hundred dollars right 
away and fifty dollars a month." 

Browne lit a cigarette slowly, his 
eyes on Martin. "You're serious, 
aren't you," he said. "I'll tell you 
what we'll do. We'll let the whole 
thing ride for the present. Maybe 

"No!" Martin said. "It must 
never be published! It's very vital 
that it never be published." 

"Okay," Browne said. "We 
won't publish it. We have the con- 
tract, but — we won't publish it." 

"Thanks, very much," Martin 
said. "I must hurry back." 

The publisher stared thoughtful- 
ly at the closed door after Martin 
had gone. He glanced down at the 

IECTURE ROOM 304 was very 
JL large, capable of holding four 
hundred students in its successive 
tiers of seats, plus the teacher on 
his raised platform immediately in 
front of the large blackboard. In 
previous years there had been in- 
stances of students slipping out aft- 
er roll call. In spite of everything, it 
had happened. 

Therefore a new system had been 
inaugurated. Before roll call Mar- 
tin marched to the back of the 
room to the only exit and locked it. 
Pocketing the key, he returned to 
his podium. It had been going on 
this way for two years, and was now 

The day watchman, making his 
rounds, approached this door at 
precisely two thirty-four. He heard 
violent pounding. Along with the 
pounding there was a loud, hoarse 
voice, gasping, "Lemme out! Lem- 
me out!" 

The watchman consulted his 
clock — the one he used to make a 
record of his rounds — and deter- 
mined that it was two thirty-four. 
He knew that it was Dr. Grant's 
senior theoretical physics lecture 
period. He recalled that a couple of 
years before Dr. Grant had had 
trouble with students slipping out 
after roll call. But it occurred to 
him that it was hardly possible to 
sneak out, even on Dr. Grant, ab- 
sent-minded as he was, by pound- 
ing on the door and shouting, 
"Lemme out!" in a terrified tone of 

He therefore stopped and 
knocked on the door, calling, 
"What's going on in there?" 

' Whoever was doing the pound- 
ing and shouting evidently didn't 



hear him. Waiting no longer, the 
day watchman used his master key 
on the door. 

A smallish young man, later 
identified as Mark Smythe, at- 
tempted to -run past him into the 
hall. The watchman blocked 
Mark's escape and looked toward 
the podium in an automatic appeal 
to Dr. Grant. 

Dr. Grant was not there. The 
podium was unoccupied. So were 
all four hundred seats. There was, 
in fact, no one in room 304 except 
the one terrified student. 

In due course the police arrived, 
along with the regents. By five 
o'clock it had become certain that 
the greatest mass disappearance of 
all times had occurred, with Mark 
Smythe as the sole witness. 

He stuck to his story through re- 
peated detailed questionings, and 
in the end the police were stuck 
with it. 

According to Smythe, class had 
begun as usual. Dr. Grant had 
waited until one minute after the 
bell had sounded, then had 
marched back and locked the door, 
and returned to the front. He had 
rapidly scanned the room to see if 
there were any absences, quickly 
called half a dozen names he was 
uncertain of, and marked the at- 
tendance slip. The police found it 
still resting on the table where he 
had placed it. 

Then he had begun his lecture 
by remarking that they were be- 
hind schedule and would have to 
catch up. He had been speaking 
less tli, i u five minutes when a stu- 
ili nt l»y the name of Marvin Green 
jumped to his feet in great excite- 
ment, waving his hand and shout- 

ing, "Dr. Grant! Dr. Grant!" 

Dr. Grant had stopped his lec- 
ture and frowned darkly, then said, 
"If you will please take your 
seat — " 

"But Dr. Grant!" Marvin Green 
had interrupted him excitedly. 
"I've got it! I've got it!" 

What had happened then was 
impossible for the mind to accept. 
Marvin Green had simply ceased to 

There had been a stunned si- 
lence. And in that silence, it went 
on. Student after student popping 
out of existence in what seemed to 
be a chain reaction. 

He wasn't aware when Dr. 
Grant vanished. All he knew was 
that when at last he was alone he 
looked toward the podium and the 
professor was also gone. 

He kept waiting to go himself. 
When he didn't, he lost the fear 
that had rooted him to the spot, 
and rushed to the exit where he at 
first tried to break down the door 
and make his escape, then subsided 
into pounding and shouting for 
help when he realized his physical 
strength was insufficient for the 

Questioning didn't bring out any 
additional fact, nor alter any state- 
ment. There had been no sound to 
the vanishing, no movement of the 
person that could be considered 
significant, no flashes of light, no 
strange odors. Nothing. 

FRED GRANT got the flash on 
his hot rod radio on the way 
home from high school. 

At the end of the report Fred 
wrote down Mark Smythe's ad- 



dress on a scrap of paper, and 
drove home to be with his mother. 
It was three days before he could 
get away. 

On the morning of the third day, 
his aunt Emily arrived to take 
charge of things, and he was able 
to slip away. He drove immediately 
to Mark Smythe's address. It was 
one of the better class rooming 
houses near the campus. The land- 
lady wasn't going to let him in nor 
announce him until he explained 
he was the son of the professor who 
had vanished. She immediately 
swung to the other extreme and 
didn't bother to find out if Mark 
wanted to see him. 

"My father was your teacher," 
Fred said. 

"Oh? Come on in." 

There were tennis rackets. On 
the bookshelves there were tennis 
books. On a table there was a ten- 
nis trophy. Otherwise there was 
just a bed, a rug, and two or three 

"I don't know what I can tell 
you more than I've already told the 
police and the reporters," Mark 
said apologetically. "I guess it's 
tough, losing your father . . ." 

"Yeah," Fred agreed. "I wanted 
to ask you something though. Dad 
gave a lecture on his new theory a 
few days ago, didn't he?" 

Mark looked at him blankly. 
Then, "Oh! I guess he did. As a 
matter of fact I didn't pay much 
attention to it." He grinned. Then 
he remembered he should be sol- 
emn and stopped grinning. "I — I 
sort of slipped by it. He made the 
mistake of telling us ahead of time 
it was off the course and no ques- 
tions on it would be in the finals, so 

I more or less rested up during the 
period for a tennis match after- 
wards. Why?" 

"Didn't you get any of what he 
said?" Fred persisted. 

"Oh, a little," Mark admitted. 
"It was about some system of ar- 
riving at the basic laws of nature 
by pure logic, only what you ar- 
rived at didn't agree with facts. 
Some kind of intellectual curiosity." 
He thought a minute. "Oh," he 
said, "I see what you want. Didn't 
he leave any notes on it? It would 
be too bad if his theory was lost to 
the world now that — " He left the 
rest unsaid. 

"Maybe you can remember 
something," Fred coaxed. "Any- 
thing. Did he talk about his theory 

"Next day he gave a lecture on 
the necessity of unbelief in modern 
science. It was pretty good. He 
overemphasized it, though. Some 
of the kids thought he was making 
a religion of unbelief." 

"What did they say about his 
theory?" Fred asked quickly. 

"Oh, they were quite impressed. 
Two of them live — lived here in 
the rooming house. They were up 
here that evening tossing it back 
and forth. I was too tired from the 
tag match. I let them talk." 

"What did they think about it?" 

Mark frowned in an effort to re- 
call. "It had to do with this uni- 
verse being basically illogical, or at 
least seeming to be, because it 
didn't agree with your father's 
theory. They started building up 
fantasies on it. One I remember 
was a good one." 

"What was that?" 

"I think it was Jimmy. He said 



it would be funny if we were here 
because we believed this universe 
was the only real one. Something 
about inherited memory. Our com- 
ing from a long line of people who 
believed this was the only place, 
because all our ancestors who 
didn't believe it shot off into some 
other universe and had their chil- 
dren there. Utterly crazy. You 

"Yeah, I know," Fred agreed. 
"You going to be around in case I 
want to see you again?" 

"God! I hope so!" Mark said. 
"It makes me nervous." 

"You're safe enough," Fred 
said. "Well — thanks. I'll be seeing 

HE SMOOTHED out the crum- 
pled sheet of paper and glanced 
at it. 

"What do you hope to find, 
Fred," his mother asked. 

"I don't know," he said. "Any- 
thing, I — maybe this is something. 

Together they read, "Either: the 
universe is not constructed accord- 
ing to logical necessity, Or: the ob- 
servable universe is not the uni- 
verse." There were doodlings along 
the right margin that meant noth- 

"What does it mean?" Mrs. 
Grant asked. 

"Probably just something con- 
nected with his classes," Fred 
shrugged. He went on searching 
the waste basket, giving his mother 
no hint that he had already found 
what he was searching for. 

From the position of the paper 
in the waste basket he felt reason- 

ably sure it had been recently writ- 
ten. It was probably a voicing of 
thoughts gained from the disap- 
pearance of Horace and John, be- 
cause up to that time his father 
had assumed his theory was just 
an intellectual curiosity. 

His father couldn't have asked 
himself if the observable universe 
might not be the universe unless 
something had happened to raise a 
doubt, or suggest an alternative as 
a possibility. 

Mrs. Grant's interest lessened. 
She wandered about the room, per- 
haps reliving memories. It gave 
Fred a chance to put the piece of 
paper in his pocket so that when he 
put everything back in the waste 
basket his mother would dismiss the 
whole search. 

There was, of course, the file 
with the entire theory in it. He 
knew the theory by heart, however, 
and had no need of that file. 

"I think I'll go out for a while, 
Mom," he said. 

"All right, Fred," she said dis- 

Outside he climbed behind the 
wheel of his hot rod and sat there, 
making no motion to start the mo- 
tor. He was thinking. 

Mark Smythe had said that he 
overheard two of his fellow class- 
men discussing the theory, one of 
them remarking that, "It would be 
funny if we were here just because 
we were descended from a long 
line of people who believed this 
was the only place." 

Could that be the key? 

Take gravitation, for instance. If 
it were something that some vital 
part of you had to believe, and that 
vital part didn't believe, would the 



entire person go flying off into 

What about inanimate matter? 
Did it have to believe too? And 
what about other forms of life? 

Or was everything except human 
beings just part of the props? 

He shook his head. That didn't 
seem like quite the right track. He 
took another. 

The human mind builds up a 
picture of the outside universe 
through its senses. Sometimes its 
ideas are wrong. Right or wrong, 
inside everyone's mind is a universe, 
derived from the outside universe. 

What if the outside universe were 
derived from something? Derived 
from what? The real, logically 
necessary universe? That could be. 
At least it seemed to have some 
value as a starting point. 

He tried to reason from that 
point. Frustration grew in him. He 
wished he were older, had his uni- 
versity education behind him. 
There were so many things he 
couldn't begin to deal with. 

Maybe he could take the entire 
problem to some of his father's 
friends. He shook his head over 
this thought. From all that had 
gone on it was too likely that the 
minute one of them discovered 
something that would be of help 
he would disappear before he could 
tell it! 

That raised another point. Why 
didn't he himself vanish? What 
was there different about him? 

A lot. His father had instilled in 
him a lot of the things he himself 
could only aspire to. Unbelief was 
the major thing. Or perhaps it was 
the other major thing, remem- 

His father's voice came into con- 
sciousness, saying something he had 
said so many times it was grooved 
deeply in memory, even to the in- 
flections of voice. "All psychoses 
and mental troubles are caused by 
walled-off unpleasant memories. 
The child who trains himself to re' 
call all unpleasant things and de- 
liberately associate them with the 
feeling that they are valuable les- 
sons, but harmless, will grow up in 
perfect balance." 

He smiled. He could let flow 
through consciousness, dozens of 
incidents he had taken up with his 

He was definitely different than 
others around him. So different he 
had systematically disguised it by 
a front of accepted behavior — sys- 
tematically and consciously, under 
his father's guidance. 

There was a chance those differ- 
ences made him safe. There was a 
chance those differences would 
make it possible for him to find out 
what caused the others to vanish, 
without he himself vanishing. 

The other train of thought in- 
serted itself into consciousness 
again. Was belief the key to the dis- 

MARK SMYTHE hadn't paid 
attention when the theory was 
being explained. The others had 
undoubtedly lapped it up. The pe- 
culiar thing about the theory was 
that it was so logical and so inevi- 
table that the mind tended to ac- 
cept it, believe it to be true in spite 
of the evidence of the senses. 

Let us suppose, Fred mused, that 
deep within the mind there is some 



matrix of thought that ties the hu- 
man to this universe. A matrix that 
could conceivably be altered, and 
when altered would automatically 
shift the person to another universe 
that the altered matrix fitted. 

The subconscious usually took 
time to absorb and react. That was 
another thing his father had taught 
him to observe. Learn something, 
and it takes from days to months 
for it to become lodged in the sub- 
conscious and to rise into operation 
naturally from there. 

John Henderson had taken six 
weeks to vanish after having 
learned the theory. It had taken 
Horace Smith three and a half 
days, but he had had the added fac- 
tor of Dr. Henderson's disappear- 
ance to trigger reactions. The theo- 
retical physics class had taken 
three days exactly, and its vanish- 
ing had been a sort of group action 
or chain reaction, with intensely 
emotional reaction after the first 
student had vanished before the 
eyes of the others. 

His own father, originator of the 
theory, had probably fallen into the 
trap of starting to believe after 
Horace had vanished, so it became 
a greater probability that the dis- 
appearance was related to knowl- 
edge of the theory. Seeing the stu- 
dents vanish had probably set up 
an emotional state where complete 
belief was precipitated. 

In the whole series the only im- 
probable part was that so many 
students would react in the same 
short time. That was partly nulli- 
fied by the fact that it was a special 
class, and only high I.Q. students 
with excellent records were ac- 
cepted. They would tend to be 

somewhat identical in reaction 

He straightened up and stared 
through the windshield at the dark 
street. So there it was, the probable 
mechanism of vanishment. A sys- 
tem was fed into the conscious 
mind. The conscious mind accept- 
ed it. In due time that system was 
transferred down into the matrix 
that held the person in this reality 
or universe. Once there, it made 
the whole person transfer to a sys- 
tem where the altered matrix fitted. 
It might not be the system pictured 
in his father's theory. It might be a 
compromise system. 

Where and when probably had 
no meaning in relation to the two 
systems. That was why, when the 
shift came, the person vanished in- 
stantly without any strange mani- 
festations of any kind. 

Was it reversible? If so, then 
some of those who had vanished 
would reappear eventually. 

A sudden, startling thought 
made Fred sit up straight, his eyes 
shining with excitement. So far he 
had been safe mainly because he 
habitually didn't attach belief to 
anything. His other facet of dif- 
ference might be the means of his 
testing this without real danger of 

Could he dredge up from the 
deepest layers of unconscious 
thought, the threads leading direct- 
ly to the matrix that held him in 
his surroundings and learn con- 
sciously what it was? 

A thought. He reflected on it, 
then decided before he made any 
decisions he would explore the 
other avenue, the one the police 
had naturally thought of. 



Was there some person or per- 
sons unknown in back of the dis- 
appearances? Some non-human, 
perhaps? It could fit into the same 
theory of disappearance. Another 
universe, beings in that universe. 
Beings who perhaps didn't want 
knowledge of their universe to be- 
come known on this side of the veil. 

If so, why hadn't they snatched 
him too? Maybe they didn't know 
he knew about the theory. He'd 
never talked about it to anyone. 
But his father had drilled it into 
him as a supreme example of the 
reasons why belief in anything was 
a trap. 

He shook his head. It didn't seem 
likely that the disappearances had 
been engineered by anyone. They 
smacked too much of an inner pat- 
tern, an inner mechanism. 

So he came back to the other 
theory. What could he try to ac- 
complish by exploring into his 
deepest substratum of thought? 
The ideal he could aim for would 
be conscious transfer into the other 
system with the assurance before- 
hand that he could transfer back 
again. If he could do that, and if 
he could find those who had van- 
ished, maybe he could teach them 
how to return. 

It was something that might take 
a long time, he realized. His first 
objective was to penetrate deeper 
into his mind than anyone had ever 
consciously gone before. That alone 
could take a lifetime. Or it might 
be accomplished overnight. 

How would he begin? Where 
would be begin? he shrugged. It 
didn't matter. He would have to 
systematically extend his ability to 
be aware in every direction, physi- 

cal and temporal, until he could 
be conscious of his individual blood 
cells if it were possible, and com- 
pletely and vividly conscious, at 
will of every second of his past life. 
If that didn't lead him to his ob- 
jective, it might at least point the 
way and increase his ability to 
reach his goal. 

That evening, Fred arrived home 
to find a stranger seated in the li- 
brary. There was the usual moment 
of clumsiness such encounters gen- 
erate, but Fred's mother returned 
with a tea tray before self -introduc- 
tions became necessary. She said, 
"Mr. Gaard, this is my son, Fred." 

The man smiled easily as Mrs. 
Grant continued, speaking now to 
Fred. "This is Curt Gaard, Fred. 
I called on him today and what do 
you think I discovered. "He was a 
friend — a very old friend — of your 
father." Mrs. Grant stopped, a cer- 
tain inward uncertainty snowing 

Fred stood mute, giving voice to 
none of the questions which sprang 
up in his mind. Curt Gaard, com- 
pletely at ease, took up the lead. 
Even as a feeling of familiarity 
sprang into Fred's mind, Gaard 
said, "I knew your father — met 
him several times — but we weren't 
as close as your mother's words 
might imply." 

Then Fred knew. He spoke sud- 
denly. "You're a psychiatrist." The 
pieces fell into place. Fred's father 
had mentioned this man several 
times, and the boy knew he was not 
there by chance — that his mother 
had contacted the psychiatrist — 
this particular one because she too 
had remembered the acquaintance- 
ship. For a moment, Fred was an- 



noyed with his mother. Why on 
earth had she brought a psychia- 
trist into this? Then he softened as 
he realized she felt it to be to her 
son's best interests. 

"Yes, I'm a psychiatrist," Gaard 
said. Then, as though he could 
read Fred's mind: "Your mother 
did send for me, but so far as Pfn 
concerned, it's nrore than just a 
professional visit. I knew your 
father and liked him. I'd like to be 
your friend." 

"You plan to psychoanalyze 

"Don't be so grim about it," Curt 
Gaard smiled. "Just let's make this 
a social visit. There will be plenty 
of time for other things later. Per- 
haps you can drop in at my office." 

"Perhaps," Fred said, almost ab- 
sently. A short time later he ex- 
cused himself and went to his room. 


RS. GRANT?" Mr. Browne 
said, smiling at the woman be- 

Browne the publisher." 

"Browne?" she said. "Oh yes. My 
hus — husband has mentioned you." 

"Favorably, I hope?" Browne 
was wondering if Dr. Grant had 
told her of his decision not to let the 
book be published. 

"Oh yes, very favorably." She 
frowned. "Which reminds me. He 
received a check from you for the 
advance royalties. I'm sure he 
didn't cash it because there was no 
deposit at the bank that large. I 
can't find the check anywhere. He 
must have had it with him when — " 

She had opened the screen door. 
Browne went in and followed her 
into the study. He looked around at 

the walls of books, almost feeling 
the presence of the man whose re- 
treat this had been. 

"That's what I've come here to 
see you about," Browne said. "You 
see, he called on me at my office the 
morning of the day he vanished." 

"He did?" 

"Yes. I'm going to be quite frank 
with you. He returned the check to . 

"Why? He said nothing to me 
about it." 

"I rather imagine he didn't have 
time. I've waited, knowing you 
wouldn't care to discuss business so 
soon after—" He waited for her re- 
action. When she said nothing he 
continued. "He returned the check 
and said he didn't want the book 
published after all. I couldn't quite 
understand his reasons, but they are 
no longer valid as I see it." 

"What were his reasons? This 
surprises me very much. Just the 
day before that he mentioned his 
book and expressed pleasure that it 
was being published." 

"The reasons he gave were that 
the book contained some things that 
were — to use his own words — a 
trifle crackpottish. He thought they 
might reflect on him in some way." 

"Oh my goodness. He was always 
doing something like that, Mr. 
Browne. He leaned over backwards. 
Scientific integrity was a fetish with 

"I haven't read the book," Mr. 
Browne said. "The reader reported 
it was far better than Dr. Grant's 
first one. That was good enough for 
me. The reader is no longer with 
us." He frowned in irritation at the 
memory. "Left us without giving 
notice. But he was a good man. Ex- 



cellent judgment. I'd like to go 
ahead with the book unless you ob- 

"I don't know," Mrs. Grant 
hesitated. "If he didn't want it pub- 

"But he's gone now," Browne re- 
minded her. 

"I know, but—" She wept softly 
into a crumpled kerchief. 

The publisher remained silent. 
After a moment she pulled herself 
together. "He was always so absent- 
minded. I was sure he had mislaid 
the check. Used it to scribble some 
problem on. He did that once 
several years ago." 

Browne reached into his breast- 
pocket and brought out a long en- 
velope and extended it toward her. 

"I had another check made out 
for advance royalties," he said, "if 
you decide to let me go ahead with 
the book." 

"I don't think I should, Mr. 
Browne." She withdrew the check 
from the envelope and looked at it, 
her eyebrows lifting at the size of 
the figure. 

"It's substantially more than the 
original check," Browne said. "I 
thought perhaps you might be in 
need of money, and I feel confident 
the book will sell exceptionally 

"It is a lot of money," Mrs. Grant 
said. "But I'm so confused. I wish I 
knew what to do." 

Browne leaned forward. "Your 
husband was a great man. I feel it 
as an obligation on my part to make 
public his last work." 

Mrs. Grant nodded slowly. "You 
may be right. I hadn't thought of it 
that way." 

"And you can undoubtedly use 

the money," Browne added. 
"There'll be more. How much more 
depends on how the book sells. It 
may be a steady income for a few 

"All right," Mrs. Grant said, 
making up her mind. "I'll let you 
publish it." 

"Fine!" Mr. Browne said heart- 
ily. "I felt you would. And any time 
you need money just call me." 

February. He was seventeen 
now, and the knowledge filled him 
with dismay. It had been months 
since his father had vanished. 

Or had his father vanished? 
Maybe his memory of those people 
vanishing was as wrong as his 
memory of which way his door 
opened! To check it he spent an 
afternoon in a newspaper office 
searching back papers until he 
found the accounts. He read them 
all carefully. They were as he re- 
membered them. 

And in him, slowly, grew the 
realization that he was going to use 
someone. He was going to choose 
someone and try to make that per- 
son disappear. More, he knew that 
that person was going to be Curt 
Gaard. He decided against calling 
and making an appointment. He 
would go to the man's office and 
put over the sixteen-year-old act. 

With a great deal of shyness he 
confided to the receptionist that 
Curt was a very special friend of 
his mother's. She talked into the 
inter-office phone, did a lot of lis- 
tening and yessing. Finally she told 
Fred that Dr. Gaard wanted him to 
wait a few moments. Then she 



dialed an outside number. Fred lis- 
tened to the clicks and knew it was 
his home phone. The psychiatrist 
was going to talk to his mother. He 
hadn't wanted that, but it wouldn't 
matter materially. 

The wait lasted almost half an 
hour. Then, with heart pounding, 
Fred was walking toward the dark 
walnut door to the inner office. 
Inside, he caught a comprehensive 
glimpse of the rumored couch, lux- 
urious desk and chairs, thick expen- 
sive rug, and an assortment of floor- 
lamps and oil paintings. Then the 
psychiatrist was upon him, heartily 
welcoming him. 

There were time-marking con- 
versational exchanges about school, 
the hot rod, and life in general. 
There was the pause while each 
sized the other up. 

Then, "I'm glad you dropped in, 
Fred," Dr. Gaard smiled casually. 

"I'm all mixed up," Fred said. "I 
know something's wrong with me. I 
wanted someone to talk to, now 
that Dad is gone. I thought of you. 
I didn't want to bother Mom. Do 
you really straighten out crazy peo- 

"Not exactly," Curt chuckled. 
"A psychologist finds most of his 
patients among people who are just 
upset about things. They aren't in- 
sane. They just need someone who 
has experience to help them get 
their thoughts straightened out." 

"Maybe that's all I need," Fred 
naid. "1 don't think I'm crazy." 

"( )f course you aren't. You're a 
very he.ilthy-tninded young man." 

"I ilun't want Mom to know 
alinut this . . ." 

i urt frowned, jotted something 
tiov>u on a notepad. It was, Fred 

guessed, a notation to call his 
mother and warn her to keep quiet. 

"Don't worry about your mother. 
Now tell me, just what seems to be 
the trouble?" Curt smiled encour- 

"Are you married?" Fred asked 
with teen-age frankness. 

"No," Curt smiled. 

"Would you marry my mother?" 
Fred asked bluntly. "I would like 
for you to be my father." 

Curt Gaard stared at him a mo- 
ment. "I really believe you mean 
that," he said slowly. "You know, 
don't you, that it will be two years 
before she can be free to marry? 
Your father can't be declared legal- 
ly, ah, departed, for two years." 

"No. I didn't know," Fred said, 
real dismay on his face. He hadn't 
known about that. He thought 
rapidly. "Then can I come live 
with you? Just until Mom can 
marry you?" Inwardly he was en- 
joying this. And he hoped he wasn't 
overdoing it. 

"We can't do that," Curt said. 
"I'll tell you what we can do, 
though. I'll invite myself out to din- 
ner tomorrow evening. Don't say 
anything. I'll surprise your mother. 
And we'll see a lot of each other 
from now on. Okay?" 

Fred nodded. It was definitely 
okay. He wanted to be present 
when Curt Gaard disappeared into 
thin air, and this way he had a 

HE LEFT Curt's office highly ex- 
hilarated, almost drunk with the 
emotion of things working right. It 
lasted until the following evening 
when the doctor showed up and he 



and Fred's mother put on their 
little act. Then his emotions swung 
the other way. He experienced a 
reluctance to go through with his 
plans. There was too much that was 
likeable about the man. And his 
mother did like him. 

"Poor Dad," Fred thought. 

After dinner the next evening, 
Curt kept the conversation on 
Fred's father. It was, Fred sensed, 
the right time to bring up the 
theory. Curt would do anything to 
please him, to draw him out. 

But he hesitated. Stretching 
elaborately, he said, "I'm sleepy. 
Why don't you and Mom play 
Canasta or something?" 

"I'm going to be much too busy," 
his mother said. "I have to finish 
proofreading your father's book for 
the publisher. Mr. Browne is finally 
going to print it, and wants it back 
right away." 

"When did that happen?" Fred 
demanded. "Can I read it?" 

"You can read it when it comes 
out. Now you and Curt go into the 
study and leave me alone." She 
herded them out of the room. 

This interlude had served to 
strengthen Fred's resolve. Alone 
with the psychiatrist, he let slip 
that he knew of a wonderful theory 
his father had originated, then tried 
to cover up. 

Curt used flattery. Fred took his 
cue and slyly bragged that it was a 
theory few college professors could 
understand even, but he understood 

More coaxing and he was ready 
to start in. But his conscience got 
the better of him. He balked, and 
even as he tried to squirm out of it 
he realized that it was too late. Dr. 

Gaard would never rest until the 
theory had been told. 

"I'll tell you the next time you 
come," he suggested as a last re- 

"Tonight," Curt said. "Even if it 
takes all night. You can miss school 
tomorrow." He winked. "I can 
okay it with the teacher." 

"All right," Fred said in sudden 
crystalization of decision. "But only 
if you agree to master every step of 
it, stopping me until you have." 
Curt agreed. He started in. 

After half an hour it settled into 
serious listening on Curt's part, and 
pertinent questions that made Fred 
realize he was dealing with a mind 
of more than average keenness. 

Fred's mother wandered in oc- 
casionally, and out again, without 
being noticed by either of them. 

An hour passed. Two. The final 
steps were drawing nearer. At times 
Curt was even anticipating some of 
them. It was midnight when it was 
finished. The mind of Curt Gaard 
held the entire pattern. 

Fred couldn't take his eyes off 
the man's face. The face that was 
mirroring the rapid flow of thoughts 
as it reviewed and attacked every 
brick in the structure, finding it 
solid, and solidly cemented to its 

Then he saw a change come over 
the man's face. He had accepted 
the theory. Now he was trying to 
integrate it into the problem of 
Fred Grant. He hadn't yet seen the 
connection between the theory and 
the mysterious disappearances. 

And perhaps he wouldn't. If he 
did he might go the final step and 
realize what was going to happen to 
him. Fred hoped that wouldn't 



happen. He didn't want his victim 
to be conscious of being a victim. 

"You are intelligent, Fred," Curt 
probed, "to be able to master such 
an advanced theory." He glanced 
at his watch. "It's getting pretty 
late. I'll tell you what. After school 
tomorrow drop down to my office. 
We'll come out for dinner here to- 

"Say! That'd be swell!" Fred 
enthused. "I'll get right to bed so I 
can get enough sleep." He leaped 
up and called, "Mom! I'm going to 
bed now." He winked broadly at 
Curt to let him know he was getting 
out of his way so they could be 
alone together a few minutes. 

And that was that. The dye was 
cast, and all that remained was to 
try and use it to make progress, 
rather than letting it be just another 
disappearance that pointed to 
nothing constructive. 

There was no way of telling how 
fast it would work. The next after- 
noon and evening there was little to 
provide an indication, other than 
an occasional look that came over. 
Curt for moments at a time. 

A date was made for Saturday. 
It was to be a picnic in the country. 
That meant skipping Friday. Fred 
violently objected, but Curt and his 
mother overrode his objections. So 
in the end it had to be Saturday, 
unless Curt disappeared before 

He didn't. 


UT TEN minutes before school 
wau out Friday a note was 
brought into the classroom from the 
principle's office. Curt had called 
to ask Fred to come to his office 

directly from school. 

Torn between excited anticipa- 
tion that the psychiatrist had made 
an important discovery, and fear 
that the man would have vanished 
before he could get to him, Fred 
ran from the school building and 
caught the bus. 

At Curt's office the receptionist 
smiled and told him to go right in. 
His sigh of relief was genuine. Curt 
was sitting at his desk. 

"Come in, son," he said. 

There were the amenities. "How 
did school go today?" "Okay." 
"Anything happen?" Fred waited 
impatiently. Then: "I've been 
thinking a lot about your father's 
theory, Fred, and I would like to 
ask a few questions — if it won't 
upset you." 

"Of course not!" Fred said. 

"Okay, here's a question," Curt 
said. "Or rather, a statement You 
can answer yes or no. You believe 
the theory is at the root of the dis- 
appearances, that in some unknown 
fashion knowing the theory will 
cause a person to vanish." 

So there it was. Fred debated 
rapidly in his mind. It might be 
better to admit it. 

"Yes," he said. 

"Hmm. Then let me ask you 
this. How do you account for the 
fact that you know it, and haven't 

Fred decided to be completely 
truthful and see what happened. 
"It's because I don't let belief form 
a part of my thinking, sir. Dad in- 
stilled that in me. With those that 
disappeared, logic was their 
groundwork of belief." 

"But you believe knowing the 
theory caused them to vanish?" 



Fred smiled. "I see what you 
mean. No, I don't. It's just that no 
other alternative seems probable, 
so . . . 

"So you work with the one that 
does," Curt said, nodding. "All 
right, let's work with it for the mo- 
ment. You have probably done 
some thinking on what mechanism 
might be involved in the process of 
vanishing. Would you care to tell 
me about it?" 

"There's no reason why not, sir. 
It takes time for conscious beliefs 
to sink into the subconscious and 
integrate there. The time varies 
with the person and the emotions 

"That makes sense," Curt said, 

"I postulated that down under- 
neath even the subconscious, at the 
very roots of being, is what I named 
the basic thought matrix. In order 
for us to be here in this existence at 
all it must have a certain form. 
Change that form and, presto, the 
person slips out of this existence, 
perhaps into another." 

"I see." Curt drummed his fin- 
gers on the desk for a long minute. 
"I see," he repeated. "Has it oc- 
curred to you that you have already 
rejected your theory? It's quite 
obvious you have, you know." 

"How is it obvious?" Fred asked, 
wondering what Curt meant. 

"Because you told me the theory. 
You wouldn't have, of course, if 
you believed it would cause me to 
vanish like the others." 

Fred opened and closed his 
mouth several times, unable to cope 
with this. It was unexpected. 

"We've gotten to the root of your 
trouble," Curt went on. "It was a 

real trouble, to you. In a few 
months you will look back on it 
and marvel at it. Right now it 
seems real. You feel that somewhere 
your father still exists. You would 
like to go to him, or perhaps bring 
him back. Believe me, such mys- 
terious vanishings aren't uncom- 
mon. The history of the world is 
full of such incidents. In some cases 
whole groups have vanished. Au- 
thenticated cases. In southeast Asia 
the people of an entire city of over 
a million inhabitants vanished over- 
night. In the last century an entire 
trainload of people, including the 
train, vanished while going from 
one city to another a few miles 
away. And there have been van- 
ishments with reappearances, too. 
In England there was an old wom- 
an who suddenly vanished before 
the eyes of her family. At the same 
instant she reappeared in a room 
in London, miles away, in front of 
other people. Did she know your 
father's theory? Did the train that 
vanished know that theory?" Curt 
was smiling. "No. You see, it's 
something unrelated to your fa- 
ther's theory." 

Fred was nodding. "You may be 
right," he said. "I didn't know 
about those." 

"You may go now, son," Curt 
said. "I'll be out around eleven 
o'clock in the morning." 

Fred rose quickly. "Okay, Curt," 
he said. "I'll see you." He hurried 
out. It was too much of an effort 
to hide the sudden trembling. He 
hadn't known about other cases of 
vanishing. They provided data to 
expand the whole thing, while not 
in the slightest detracting from the 
validity of anything else. 



And if the talk had been pro- 
!"n<;c(l much more Curt would have 
inevitably tumbled to his motive 
for telling him the theory. 

PROMPTLY AT eleven Curt ar- 
rived. Fred's mother had already 
prepared the large basket of food. 
There were ten minutes of last- 
minute bustle, then they were off, 
with Curt skillfully tooling his 
Cadillac in and out of traffic until 
they were on the open highway. 

"I know just the place," he told 
them. "Woods, meadow, brook. 
Even a couple of cows." And he 
did. When they arrived shortly be- 
fore twelve-thirty it was all that. 

Fred relaxed as the car came to 
a stop. Every second of the trip he 
had been ready to seize the wheel 
and keep the car from crashing if 
Curt vanished. 

"Still a little nervous?" Curt 
asked him as they got out. 

"No. No, of course not!" Fred 

Curt didn't pursue the subject. 
Instead, he became something ut- 
terly different than he had been 
Ucfore, a carefree thoroughly like- 
.il »le man, full of humor. 

Fred began to regret that he had 
i bourn him as his victim. He began 
u> hope that the process might not 
In- automatic, that Curt wouldn't 
vanish. But he stayed close to him 
mkI listened to his every word and 

it, hed his face as much as he 

i'i| without staring, so that if the 

•■in i ut rami" he could get what- 

ci ilierr was to get of value from 

I'm tin first time in years his 
iiiiiihci In )'.m to be carefree. She 

even joked back at Curt occa- 
sionally, something she had never 
done with Martin in Fred's 
memory. Her joking was clumsy 
and uncertain. Fred laughed up- 
roariously to encourage her and to 
hide his uncomfortable feeling. 

"Oh, I haven't felt so good in 
ages," she said when they were 
seated around the tablecloth spread 
with sandwiches and salads and 
cakes. "It's wonderful getting out 
like this. We'll have to do it often." 

"We will," Curt said. "At least 
once a week." 

Fred's mother picked up a sand- 
wich. She started to raise it to her 
mouth. She was smiling at Curt and 
about to say something to him. Both 
Curt and Fred were watching her. 

Abruptly she wasn't there. The 
sandwich seemed to remain sta- 
tionary for a long second. Then it 
dropped to the tablecloth. 

Curt was holding a paper cup 
filled with hot coffee. His hand con- 
stricted. The cup collapsed, spilling 
steaming coffee over his legs. 

Fred stared at the space his 
mother had just occupied. Abruptly 
he squawked, "No!" He turned ac- 
cusing eyes on Curt. "You told 

Something seemed to go out of 
the man. He seemed to become 
visibly smaller. "Yes," he whis- 
pered, "I told her." 

Fred was crying. "But you 
shouldn't have," he sobbed. "I told 
you because I wanted you to vanish. 
I didn't want her to, and now she 
has. And nothing happened that I 
could use." 

Curt blinked at him, absorbing 
this new bit of information. "You 
wanted me to vanish?" he echoed. 



"Yes, I can see that now. I didn't 
know. It seemed too absurd. I 
thought you were just imagining 
things. Yes, I went out while you 
were at school and spent the whole 
morning teaching her every step. It 
was fairly easy. We had planned on 
coaxing you to explain it to her. 
Knowing it ahead of time she could 
pretend to grasp it that much more 
easily. We were planning on coax- 
ing you into a more social relation- 
ship. Actually, she had already read 
the theory in your father's book she 
was reading for the publisher." A 
glassy look came into his eyes. "The 
book. If the theory is at the root of 
the disappearances the book 
shouldn't be published. Yes, by 
God. That's what your father was 
driving at. Your mother told me the 
publisher had told her your father 
tried to get him not to publish it." 

"The book has the theory in it?" 
Fred said. "It mustn't get pub- 
lished. Why — thousands of people 
would read it and vanish. We've got 
to stop them!" 

Curt was shaking his head in 
bewilderment. "But we can't be 
sure. It must be something else, 
though what I don't know." 

"No," Fred said bitterly. 

There was a long silence. Curt 
broke it by saying, "What did you 
expect to accomplish by my van- 

Fred told him of Horace's shout- 
ing to his wife, "Ethel! I've got it!", 
and the others seeming to have a 
flash of divination or insight just 
before they vanished. 

"I wanted," he explained dully, 
"to be with you when it happened, 
in the hopes I could get something 
more than I have to go on. In that 

way I might be able to find out 
something so I could bring my fa- 
ther back. And Mom." He began 
to cry. 

"I see," Curt said, calm and a 
little subdued. "It's possible that 
may come. After what I've seen 
happen I can admit it as a pos- 

"Then you will make every effort 
to tell me?" Fred asked. 

Curt smiled wryly. "You make it 
sound inevitable. But — yes, I will." 

Fred's eyes were large and round. 
"I've got to find the mechanism. 
I've got to go where they've van- 
ished to and show them how to get 
back!" He turned his eyes on Curt. 
"Don't you hate me?" he pleaded. 
"I'm just the same as a murderer!" 

"No, my son," Curt said gently. 
"Wherever your father is, your 
mother is with him now. If — " A 
startled expression appeared on his 
face. "So that's it," he almost whis- 

"What's it?" Fred asked. "Tell 
me. Please tell me. I've got to know, 
you know. You promised!" 

Curt frowned in a visible effort 
to jerk himself back. His eyes, hold- 
ing a faraway look, rested on Fred's 
face, looked at it, and through it. 

"You promised!" Fred screamed. 
"Tell me!" 

Curt opened his mouth as though 
to speak. His lips smiled. 

And — he was no longer there. 

Fred was alone, with the picnic 
lunch on the white square of table- 
cloth, with the gleaming Cadillac a 
few yards away, with the two white 
and black spotted cows grazing a 
short distance away, with the noisy 
little brook nearby. 

Alone. . . 



HE BECAME aware of a police 
siren growing louder. He became 
aware he was behind a wheel, that 
there were cars in front of him 
veering wildly out of his way. The 
speedometer needle pointed at 

How had he arrived here? He 
took his foot off the gas. He was 
driving a Cadillac. Curt's. But Curt 
was gone. That was it! He had 
started out to look for the police. 

He pulled over to the side of the 
road as the police car came scream- 
ing up. Shakily he told them about 
the disappearances. Any doubts 
they might have had were held in 
reserve by the obvious sincerity of 
his grief. 

He led them back to the picnic 
grove. The tablecloth with the food 
on it was still there, untouched. 
One of the cows was grazing be- 
side it. 

They listened while he told again 
of his mother and Curt vanishing 
before his eyes. Their reserved 
skepticism was thrust out of their 
minds when he identified himself 
as the son of Dr. Martin Grant, who 
had disappeared. 

They used their car radio. In a 
surprisingly short time several other 
cars were coming through the gate 
into the pasture. 

Fred, his mind paralyzed with 
grief, stood forlornly near the 
Cadillac. He answered the ques- 
tions they put to him. He wasn't 
aware of the news cameras that 
took shots of him which were to ap- 
pear in the evening papers all over 
the country. 

Eventually it was over. The 
police gathered up the picnic lunch, 
his mother's purse, and everything 

else. A gray-haired man in a dark 
brown suit who introduced himself 
as Captain Waters told him to get 
into the Cadillac. "I'll drive," 
Waters said. 

Entirely submissive, Fred obeyed. 
On the way into town Captain 
Waters said he would take Fred 
home if he wanted to go there, but 
it would be really better if he ac- 
cepted an invitation to stay at the 
Waters home for a few days until 
things were straightened out. 

"All right," Fred said. _ 

Eternities later he was in a house 
with comfortable furnishings. A 
motherly old lady was hovering 
around him. Captain Waters was 
on the phone caUing someone. 

There was a steaming dinner on 
blue design Swedish dishes. Under 
coaxing Fred nibbled. Door chimes 
sounded. Captain Waters pushed 
back his chair and went away. He 
came back with another gray-haired 
man who pressed a thumb against 
Fred's cheek, listened to words Cap- 
tain Waters was saying, then or- 
dered Fred to roll up his sleeve. 

He swabbed a spot with alcohol 
and inserted a hypo needle. Fred 
watched with listless eyes. 

"Get him undressed and to bed," 
the doctor said. "Poor kid. Suffer- 
ing from shock. Have to watch him 
the next few days . . ." 

Shock . . . Fred tried to concen- 
trate on the meaning of the word. 

The bed was an enormous ex- 
panse of fresh smelling sheets and 
luxurious blankets. The pillows 
were mountainous . . . and so 
soft ... 

The sun was streaming in 
through open French doors, filtered 
through bronze screen doors. An 



electric clock on the dresser pointed 
at eleven. 

He lay there without moving, re- 
membering everything that had 
happened the day before. And he 
had a feeling that, in his sleep, he 
had been doing a lot of thinking. 
Or was it dreaming? 

"Poor boy," a melodious voice 

He opened his eyes. It was the 
motherly woman, with a tray of 
toast and eggs and steaming coffee. 
The sight of it made him aware 
that there was a huge emptiness in 
his stomach. 

He ate, gratefully. Mrs. Waters 
busied herself about the room, 
humming soft tunes, smiling at him 
whenever he looked at her. When 
he had finished, she took the tray. 

"You just relax and sleep some 
more," she said. "The bathroom is 
through that door over there. If 
you want me for anything just call. 
I'll hear you. And if you want to 
get up and wander about the house 
just do so." She departed, leaving 
the door part way open in invita- 

Fred sighed and closed his eyes. 
In that moment of relaxation the 
thinking he had done during the 
night rose into consciousness. 

For he knew now what he had 
to do. There was no other avenue 
of exploration. It might not even 
be possible. But if it was possible he 
was going to do it. 

He was going to vanish. 

THERE ALONE lay the solution. 
He should have realized it. Once 
he vanished as had the others, he 
would have experience with the 

mystery. Personal experience. He 
would have all the data he re- 
quired, instead of just data from 
the world he was in. If he had the 
ability to solve the problem of re- 
appearance he would then be able 
to return, and go back again and 
show the others how to return. 

The key to vanishing was belief, 
that quality of thought which his 
father had systematically weeded 
from his mind since earliest infancy. 
It might take time to overcome 
that, but it should be possible. 

Already he believed some things. 
Or did he? Was it merely a realiza- 
tion that those things had a prob- 
ability that approached certainty? 

His patterns of thinking were too 
ingrained. His mind was too well 
integrated. If he became irritated 
the irritation immediately brought 
up the memories of the factors that 
made him react that way. If he be- 
came happy he consciously knew 
the pattern, stretching back to early 
infancy. It was ingrained within 

He began to realize with a sink- 
ing sensation that he didn't actually 
know what belief was. If, in some 
way, it was present anywhere in his 
makeup, he didn't know how to 
recognize it. 

His mental pattern was one of 
unbelief. Not disbelief, the believing 
that something isn't true; but un- 
belief, the using of something in the 
pragmatic sense for its workability. 

He let his thoughts wander in the 
past. He could remember vaguely 
a moment when he had felt unrea- 
soning terror, a sense of being lost. 
He could remember his father say- 
ing many times, "Belief is the lazy 
assuming that something is true. It 



is or it isn't, and the fundamental 
postulate of inductive logic tells us 
that its truth or lack of it is forever 
beyond our reach. So why reach for 
it? Use a theory if it works for you. 
Discard it if it doesn't. Don't use it 
even to the point of absurdity while 
clinging to a belief that it's true. 

It was that way with facts, too. 
Something that happened or 
seemed to happen, needed no tag of 
belief attached to it. If you saw it 
happen it didn't necessarily happen. 
There was such a thing as illusion. 
Accept it as though it had hap- 
pened — until events pointed other- 

His playmates and teachers had 
been frankly skeptical of this point 
of view, doubting he could actually 
have attained it. They were quick 
to agree it was desirable. They just 
thought no one could use a thing 
without attaching a degree of belief 
or unbelief to it. 

Now, what should he believe? As 
in the attempts to reach the basic 
matrix by conscious extension, he 
had to start somewhere. 

It was midafternoon when Cap- 
tain Waters entered the bedroom 
with a cheery, "Hello!" 

"Hi," Fred said. He had been 
lying in bed with his eyes closed. 

"Did I wake you?" Waters said. 
"Sorry." He grinned. "You can go 
back to sleep again. I'll drop in 

Captain Waters ducked out. He 
started to close the door, then left 
it open. A few minutes later the 
rumble of his voice came from an- 
other part of the house. Fred tried 
to catch what he was saying, but 

Half an hour later he heard the 
front door chimes. The rumble of 
deep voices came again. The doc- 
tor appeared in the doorway. 

"Well, well," he said, smiling. "I 
hear you had a very restful night. 
How do you feel today? Better?" 
He was advancing toward the bed 
as he talked. Setting his black bag 
down, he reached out and took 
Fred's pulse. "A little rapid," he 
said, putting his watch away. 
Reaching inside his coat, he took 
out a thermometer. He put it under 
Fred's tongue. "Had anything to 
eat or drink in the past fifteen min- 
utes?" he asked. Fred shook his 

The doctor stood quietly. After 
a while he lifted the thermometer, 
glanced at it, and put it away. 

"Looks like you're going to be 
fit as a fiddle," he said. "I'll be 
back in a few minutes. Mrs. Waters 
told me on the way in she was pour- 
ing me a cup of coffee." 

Fred remained motionless until 
the doctor had left the room. Then 
he slipped out of bed and went to 
the door. On the other side of it was 
a living room. A swinging door of 
the type that opens into kitchens 
was just swinging closed. No one 
was in sight. Quickly Fred stole 
across to the door. He put his ear 
close to it and listened. 

"Dr. Harvey speaking," he heard 
the doctor say. "Connect me with 
thirteen please." 

"Is he going to be all right?" Mrs. 
Waters' anxious voice sounded. 

"I think so," the doctor said 
calmly. "Hello? Thirteen? Who's 
speaking? Oh, hello, Giles. Dr. 
Harvey. Do you have a vacancy? 
Observation, yes." 



"Oh dear," Mrs. Waters said un- 

"It will be for the best," Captain 
Waters said. "They'll know how to 
take care of him." 

Fred waited for no more. He 
went back to the bedroom. His 
clothes were in the closet. In sec- 
onds he had them on. He could tie 
his shoes and button up later. 

He unfastened one of the screen 
doors and stepped out onto a flag- 
stone path that wound around 
the corner of the house toward the 
front. There were people on the 
sidewalk, but none very near. It 
would be hours before dark, and 
there was no place to hide. 

There were two cars parked at 
the curb. One was a police car, the 
other a black Chrysler sedan, prob- 
ably the doctor's car. The police 
car had the key in the ignition. Fred 
didn't hesitate. He jerked open the 
door and slid behind the wheel. 
Mrs. Waters' anxious voice 
sounded, calling, "Fred! Where are 
you?" Then the starter was whir- 
ring. The motor caught. 

As he shot away from the curb, 
Fred caught a glimpse in the rear 
view mirror of Captain Waters 
running down the walk from the 

As he took the first comer, touch- 
ing the siren button briefly, he won- 
dered why he had run. It had been 
an impulse. Maybe it was the wrong 
one. Maybe he could accomplish 
what he had to do better in some 
kind of institution. Maybe not. 

He compressed his lips grimly. 
The die was cast now. He would 
abandon the police car someplace, 
then slip quietly out of town on 
foot. He would be caught if he 

tried to go home. He had no money 
except a few dollars in change. 

Maybe this was all part of the 
new pattern that seemed to possess 
him. He kept the siren going, not 
trusting his ability to avoid traffic. 
Its mad scream blended into his 
thoughts. He was the hunted. He 
was sane, but the truth would brand 
him as insane. Or was he sane? Had 
anyone vanished? Was his father at 
home, sitting in his chair in his 
study, expounding his theories to 
his colleagues? Was his mother at 
home, in the kitchen, preparing 

His lip trembled. Homesickness 
welled up in him. 

He was near a bus line that went 
to the outskirts of the city. He shut 
off the siren and slowed down. 
After a few blocks and two turns 
he felt safe in ditching the car. He 
pulled quietly to the curb. He tied 
his shoelaces, buttoned his shirt, 
combed his hair. Then he got out. 
No one paid any attention to him. 

He walked to the corner. Two 
minutes later the bus stopped. 

THE NIGHT sky was clear. The 
moon was a lesser sun whose light 
made things visible and somehow 
unreal and mysterious. In the ditch 
to the right of the road two bright 
points of light blinked on, held for 
a moment, and vanished. A cat. 

A silent dog appeared out of the 
gloom, wagged its tail and half of 
its body in friendliness. "Nice dog- 
gy," Fred said nervously. It sniffed 
his trouser leg, lost interest, and 
moved off into the darkness. 

It was after midnight. How long 
after, he didn't know. Once a police 



car had come speeding by, its red 
lights ogling insanely, its spotlight 
weaving into the bushes at the side 
of the road. He had lain very still 
in the ditch until it passed. It hadn't 
slowed down. Later it had come 
back and he had again pressed his 
body into the earth beside the road. 

Off to the right now he saw the 
silhouette of the giant tree that had 
been the landmark of the picnic 
spot. A few minutes later he could 
see the gate that led to the meadow. 

He squeezed through it and 
picked out the path worn by the 
cars the day before. Some winged 
creature dipped down, shied away 
from him, and swept off into the 

A soft gurgling sound became 
audible. The brook. The spot where 
his mother and Curt had vanished, 
was ahead. 

He reached it. He wasn't quite 
sure until he studied the ground 
and went back in memory to check 
on little details. Then he was cer- 

He had reached his goal. 

He knew why he had come, of 
course. Here he was closer to his 
mother than anyplace else. Here, in 
some unguessed way, he might get 
to her. 

What would he do when morning 
came? He sat down and pulled his 
knees up under his chin, wrapping 
his arms around them. Morning 
was far away. It might never come 
— for him. If and when it did he 
would cope with it. "Mom," he 
whispered. "Mom . . ." 

Crrroak! The sound of the frog 
broke the silence. The croak of a 
frog that was part of the universe — 
the universe that was basically il- 

logical. More . . ; 

Fred sobbed. 

The universe was insane. Police 
looking for you. Doctors with their 
standards of sanity and insanity. 
Right now they were looking for 
him to protect him from himself. 
They didn't want to know why 
things were done. To them even the 
reason would be part of the in- 
sanity. They dealt in tags. Words. 
Their science was an illusion within 
an illusion. Meaningless inside a 
universe of meaninglessness. 

Crrroak, the frog said cautiously. 
And a night creature came down 
on silent wings, to weave back into 
the darkness. 

That was the reason for prag- 
matism. He could see it now. He 
had always thought his father made 
pragmatism his God because it was 
the intellectual thing to do. But 
now he could see the reason for it. 
Reality was a jungle in which Rea- 
son had to cope with Unreason, 
and there was no criterion except 
workability. Belief was an instinc- 
tive way of thought. It was like the 
appendix. Scientists claimed that 
long ago man ate tree bark. And 
the appendix had had a use. If so, 
that use was gone, but the appendix 
remained. Before surgery had be- 
come a common thing, thousands of 
people died from appendicitis. The 
organ that had once been necessary 
had become a hazard to living. 
Belief was something like that. 

He jerked out of his thoughts to 
listen to a car on the road. It slowed 
down. It stopped by the gate. A car 
door slammed. A man appeared 
briefly in the light of the head- 
lamps. Captain Waters— alone. 

He loomed a moment later inside 



the pasture in the light of a flash- 
light. He occasionally flashed it on 
his face so he would be recogniz- 

Fred felt an impulse to slip away 
into the darkness. He hadn't been 
seen. Captain Waters was just hop- 
ing he might be here. 

A stronger impulse made him re- 
main as he was. The entire pattern 
of Captain Waters' approach in- 
dicated understanding — or at least 
the willingness to understand. 

The bobbing flashlight came 
closer. It speared out and touched 
him; then abruptly went out. Foot- 
steps approached. A dark form 
emerged from the gloom. 

"Hello, Fred," Captain Waters 
said quietly. "I came to keep you 
company. I'll just sit quiet and not 
bother you." 

"Okay," Fred said. 

THERE WERE movements. A 
small flame illuminated Captain 
Waters' features as he lit his pipe. 
The flame went out. Then, only the 
occasional glow of the pipe, briefly 
illuminating the police Captain's 

Crrroak! The frog greeted this 
newest arrival in his domain. 

Fred could not think. He was too 
conscious of the man sitting near 
him. He fought down the impulse 
to jump up and run away into the 
darkness. He fought the desire to 
scream at the man to leave him 

Perhaps the police captain sensed 
this, or perhaps he could see Fred's 
expression when the coal in his pipe 
glowed brightest. "Tell you what," 
he said suddenly, "You maybe 

would feel better alone. I'll wait in 
the car. When you get ready you 
can come home. No more doctors. 
Mom gave me a good talking to. 
She wants you to come back." 

Waters got up and walked away 
into the night. Minutes later there 
was the sound of a car door slam- 
ming shut. Fred was alone again. 

Alone. It was a feeling, almost an 
emotion. Intellectually he knew 
that nearby was a frog. A block 
away across the meadow was the 
police captain sitting in his car. 

Abruptly, without warning, a 
flash of insight spread through his 
entire mind. He knew suddenly 
what belief was. He knew it instinc- 
tively and without question. 

And knowing it, he knew that his 
foundations of unbelief were a 
semantic illusion that had been 
built up within him. The panorama 
of his mind, his entire life, stood 
clearly before him. 

The cute little tags of probability 
were superficial. They had a prag- 
matic value in keeping the mind 
open, but their function was to 
guide the judgment in tagging 
thoughts with belief or disbelief. 

He retreated into his aloneness 
until there was nothing but himself. 
He marveled at the unfoldment of 
this new understanding. He could 
see things in this new light of un- 

But then ... A question loomed. 
If that were so, why hadn't he van- 
ished like the others? Belief was an 
automatic process. Why hadn't it 
permeated to the basic matrix of his 
mind as it had with the others? 

Was he, then, still on the wrong 

But there was no other! 



He saw the trap he had set for 
himself. He had believed with all 
hjs being that belief was the key 
he was searching for! 

He had been on the wrong track. 
His beautiful theory of belief that 
spread downward into the subcon- 
scious, then down lower and lower 
into the basic matrix that held a 
person in this reality, was wrong. 
The evidence he had based it on 
was still there, but it was evidence 
of something else. 

Of what? 

The eastern horizon was suffused 
with light. It grew stronger, dim- 
ming the light of the moon. 

From somewhere in the depths of 
his being rose a feeling that soon 
he would know, and when he did 
he would be close to crossing the 

He unclasped his arms and 
straightened out his legs, feeling 
stabs of pain in his weary muscles. 
He got to his feet, tingling with 

By the side of the road, he could 
see the police car he had stolen — 
infinite ages ago. He walked toward 
it, and when he reached it he 
climbed in and closed the door. 

"Beautiful morning," Captain 
Waters said, starting the motor. 

FRED AWOKE and opened 
his eyes. Across the room the 
Firm h doors were open. Sunlight 
». is filtering through the copper 
screens. A breeze was playing gently 
wiili the drapes. For a moment the 
i!i. .hi. the long walk into the coun- 
iiv, his rendezvous with Aloncness, 
Captain Water's coming to bring 
him b.nk, all seemed the stuff of 

dreams. He had the feeling that he 
had never left this enormous bed. 

Then it returned. Reality. The 
miracle of his reorientation to be- 
lief, the new vistas that went with 
it. The full realization of the true 
nature of the vanishments. 

He became aware of a figure in 
the doorway, watching him. It was 
Mrs. Waters. "Awake?" she asked 

"Yes," Fred said. 

"Want some breakfast?" 

He nodded. She went away. 

He raised his head and looked 
about the room, at the homey 
touches, the family pictures on the 
dresser and the walls, the hand 
sewed knickknacks and frills. This 
was probably the Waters' own bed- 
room that they had given up for 

He could vanish while Mrs. 
Waters was away. She would come 
in with the breakfast tray and find 
him gone. 

When would the moment of re- 
orientation come? 

He frowned in thought. That 
had' stirred up something about 
what he had dreamed, or thought, 
while he was asleep. Something that 
had the flavor of being very im- 

"Here you are!" Mrs. Waters 
said, sweeping into the room with 
the tray and its Swedish design 
dishes and steaming coffee and hot 
cereal. As she bent over to set the 
tray on the bed, there came the 
sound of the front door opening. 
"There's Pa, home already." She 
smiled worriedly at Fred. "Will you 
be all right? I'll tell Pa to come in 
and keep you company while I fix 
his supper." 



"Yes ma'am," Fred said, eyeing 
the food hungrily. "Only— " She 
was at the door. She stopped and 
looked around questioningly. "I — I 
think I'd like to be alone while I 

"All right," she said, and hurried 

But Captain Waters had brushed 
in without giving her a chance to 
tell him to stay away. "Hello, son," 
he said warmly. "Have a good 

Mrs. Waters said, "You let him 
alone while he eats." 

"It's all right," Fred said hastily. 

"Sure it's all right," the police 
captain said. He sat down and took 
out his pipe. He concerned himself 
with filling it and lighting it, saying 

Fred picked up a piece of golden 
toast and bit into one corner ab- 
sently. The thoughts he had had 
during sleep were filtering into con- 

He recalled how his mother had 
looked. There had been a fleeting 
expression just before she had van- 
ished. She had been going to say 
something. She had changed hex: 
mind and had vanished instead! 

And Curt — he had had his re- 
orientation at least several seconds 
before vanishing. He had had it, 
and then, with his new perspective, 
had said, "So that's it!" 

It was as though the new orienta- 
tion made everything else unimpor- 

One common factor stood out in 
every case, those two he had per- 
sonally witnessed, and the others he 
hadn't seen. One common factor. 
Vanishing, or whatever happened 
that produced the vanishing, had 

been an impulse. 

There had been time for thought. 
For example, Curt might have con- 
sidered the practicality of telling 
Fred what had happened to him. 
But he might* have reflected that 
eventually Fred would discover 
what he had just discovered, so why 

In the office Curt had told him 
of a whole city of a million people 
vanishing, leaving empty houses 
and streets. Had the cause been the 
same? A true orientation? 

Fred looked at Captain Waters, 
sitting quietly, puffing slowly on his 
pipe. With deliberation Waters un- 
crossed his legs and leaned forward. 
"You know, son, when you get 
around to it — that is, if you feel up 
to it sometime — I wish you'd tell 
me about it. What it is that's trou- 
bling you. I'll try to understand." 

"You'll try—?" Fred echoed. 
And the police captain's words 
started a train of thought. The 
others — had the place they'd gone 
been a heaven or a hell? So many 
of them — -. Fred started suddenly. 
? 'The book!" he cried. 

"What book?" 

"I've got to see the publisher 
about my father's book. It's very 

"It can wait until you're feeling 
better," Waters said. 

"No. I've got to see Mr. 


"I— I can't tell you." 

"All right." Captain Waters gave 
in. "I'll take you down and bring 
you back." 

It was half an hour later, in the 
reception room at the publishing 
company. Fred stared numbly at 



the big poster on the wall advertis- 
ing his father's book. 

"Mr. Browne will see you," the 
receptionist said. 

"Wait here," Fred told Captain 
Waters. "I want to talk to him 
alone." He went to the door and 
opened it, stepping inside and clos- 
ing it behind him. 

"Fred Grant?" Browne said, get- 
ting up from his desk and coming 
toward him, hand outstretched. 
"What can I do for you? Need 
some money?" 

Fred was shaking his head. "I 
don't want any money," he said. "I 
want you to stop my father's book. 
You can't publish it." 

"Now wait," Browne said. "We 
aren't going through that again, are 

"You can't!" Fred said. "People 
will read it and vanish!" 


"People will read it and vanish! 
You've got to believe me. The 
cause of those disappearances is in 
that book!" 

Browne stared for a moment, 
then dragged over a notepad, won- 
dering how his publicity boys had 
missed this one. He stood up and 
came around his desk. "You leave it 
to me," he said. "You won't have a 
thing to worry about. I'll take care 
of everything." 

"Then you won't publish it?" 

Browne was guiding him toward 
the door. "You leave it to me. Drop 
in again soon. If you need money 
just drop in any time and I'll fix 
you up." 

Fred found himself outside the 
door, not quite sure what Mr. 
Browne had promised. 

Inside, Browne went back to his 

desk, muttering, "What a killing! 
Have to tell Nichols about it to- 
morrow at lunch. That vanishing 
stuff is a terrific publicity angle." 

"You still don't want to tell me 
what's troubling you?" Police Cap- 
tain Waters said wistfully. 

A frown crossed Fred's features 
and vanished into a smile. "Noth- 
ing's troubling me," he lied. "I'm 
all right. I'll be all right." 

"You'll stay with us a while 

"Sure. Sure. You make me feel — 
okay. I'm just going out for a ride. 
Be back for supper." 

IT HAD been two months now 
since his mother and Curt had 
vanished. In that two months he 
had come to realize something. He 
didn't quite know how to express 
it even in his thoughts. 

It wasn't that he didn't want to 
vanish. He would, some day. But 
he had given up trying. It was the 
wrong way. The others hadn't 
tried. It had just come to them out 
of a clear sky. 

Some day it would come to him 
that way, and he would welcome it. 

He drove downtown and parked. 
A block away was a show he 
wanted to see. He started toward 
it. Abruptly he stopped. In front 
of him was a bookstore. In its win- 
dow was a large display, and every 
book had his father's picture on the 
front under the title THEORY 

In back of the display was a large 
poster with a still larger picture, 
and the teaser— (DO YOU DARE 



Anger flamed in Fred's mind. 
The anger died as abruptly as it 
had come. It was replaced by a 
homesickness, a longing. Uncon- 
sciously his footsteps carried him 
into the store. 

A man had the book in his hands. 

"You aren't going to buy that, 
George," the woman beside him 
was saying. 

"And why not?" the man asked, 
laughing. "I've never turned down 
a dare in my life!" He looked at the 
girl waiting on him. "Do you think 
I'll vanish, Miss?" 

The clerk smiled. "I wouldn't 
know. I have strict orders not to 
read the book." 

A solemn-faced man appeared 
out of nowhere and thrust a copy of 
the book at the clerk. "I want this, 
please," he said. 

"I'll be with you in a moment, 
sir," the clerk said. 

Others were waiting also. 

Fred stumbled from the store, 
bumping into someone in the door- 
way as he went through, and too 
confused and frightened to stop 
and apologize. There was no way 
of stopping it. Maybe the police 
would become alarmed at the dis- 

"What's wrong with me?" he 
mumbled, walking blindly in the 
crowds on the sidewalks. "Maybe 
I do lack the ability to believe. I 
think I believe. What have I 

Only he, of all those who had 
learned the theory, had not van- 
ished. Was faith, then, something 

so common, and yet impossible for 
he, himself, to reach? 

Ahead was another bookstore. In 
its windows were the same displays. 

He stopped. People were pushing 
through the doors. Inside they were 
picking up the book and looking for 
a clerk. 

The clerks were smiling and say- 
ing things Fred couldn't hear, and 
wrapping the books and handing 
them to their new owners — people 
who would take them home and 
read — and vanish. 

Into what? Something they 
would see, and smile at, and say, 
"Why, of course!" And with a sim- 
ple acceptance they would enter it. 

He watched them. 

And from the depths of his be- 
ing Fred longed to be one of them; 
to be able to go in and buy the 
book, and read it, and. ... 

On the other side of the window, 
in the store, a clerk was waiting on 
a customer. The customer turned to 
look at him, with his nose flattened 
against the glass. He didn't see 
them. In his eyes was a faraway 
look, a startled light. 

"Why of course!" he said in quiet 

There was just a little blur, 
where a nose had pressed against 
the window, and the customer 
frowned and said " to the clerk, 
"That young man outside— he — 

"Three-fifty, please," the clerk 

"Ah— oh. Oh, sure." 


What is to be will be. Our only refuge 
lies in that which might not have been. 

By Robert Turner 

Illustrated by KELLY FREAS 

December 8th, 1952, Two-Thirty 

^FTER. awhile the blinding light 
. wa3 like actual physical pres- 
sure against his tightly squinched 
eyes. He tried to burrow deeper into 
the protectively warm, cave-like 
place where he'd been safe from 
them for so long. But he couldn't es- 
cape them. Their hands, their big, 
red, hideously smooth hands had 
him, now. They were tugging and 
pulling at him with a strength im- 
possible to fight. Still he struggled. 

He tried to cry out but there was 
no sound from his constricted 
throat. There were only the fright- 
ening noises from outside, louder, 
now. He tried to twist and squirm 
against the hands dragging him to- 
ward that harsh, blinding light. He 
was too small, too weak, compared 
to them. He couldn't fight them off. 
He felt himself being stretched and 
strained and forced with cruel de- 
termination. He didn't want to go 

out there. He knew what was wait- 
ing for him out there. He couldn't 
go. Not out there, where ... 

When Jeff McKinney was three 
years old he tipped a pot of scalding 
water from the stove onto himself. 
He was badly burned and scarred. 
He hovered between life and death 
for several weeks. Jeffs father was 
out of work at the time and they 
were living in a cold water tene- 
ment. Something about the case 
caught a tabloid's attention and it 
was played up as a human interest 
sob story. It came to the attention 
of a wealthy man who volunteered 
to pay for plastic surgery. Then fol- 
lowed, long months of that kind of 
torture, but Jeff McKinney came 
out of it not too badly scarred. Not 
on the surface, anyhow. But his face 
had a strange hue. There was a 
frozen, mask-like cast to his features 
when he smiled. 

He was eight when he saw his 
father killed. He was in the taxi the 





older McKinney now drove for a 
living when the father stepped out 
of the driver's side onto a busy 
street without looking back first. 
The speeding truck took the car 
door and Jeffs father with it for 
half a block, wedged between front 
wheel and fender. Jeff never forgot 
the sound of that, and the scream- 
ing. Nor his shock when he sudden- 
ly realized that the screams were 
his own. 

Jeff was a strange boy. He didn't 
have an average childhood. The 
poverty was more extreme after his 
father's death. He stayed home 
alone while his mother was out 
working at whatever job she could 
get, reading too much and think- 
ing too much. Once, he looked at 
her with haunted eyes and said: 
"Mother, why is life so bad? Why 
are people even born into a world 
like this?" 

What could she say to a question 
like that? She said : "Please, Jeffer- 
son! Please don't talk that way. 
Life isn't all bad. You'll see. Some 
day, in spite of everything, you'll be 
somebody and you'll be happy. The 
good times will come." 

They did, of course. A few of 
them. There was the day he went 
upstate on an outing for under- 
privileged boys and went fishing for 
the first time. He caught a whop- 
ping trout and won a prize for it 
That was nice; that was fun. That 
was when he was thirteen. That 
was the year the gang of kids 
caught him on the way home from 
school and beat him unconscious 
because he never laughed; because 
they couldn't make him laugh. The 
year before his mother died. 

At the orphanage he didn't min- 

gle much with the other boys. He 
spent most of his after-classes hours 
alone in the school's chemistry lab. 
He liked to tinker with chemicals. 
They were cold, emotionless, im- 
mune to joy and sadness, yet they 
had purpose. He played the cello, 
too, with haunting beauty, but not 
in the school band, only when he 
wanted to, when nobody was 
around and he could really feel the 

Once, on the way home from his 
cello lesson in the music building, 
he saw some boys playing football 
on the orphanage athletic field. He 
was suddenly seized with a fierce 
determination to belong, to grab at 
some of the shouting, laughing hap- 
piness these boys seemed to have. 
He told them he wanted to join in 
and play, too. He didn't understand 
why they laughed so at this idea. 

They stopped laughing, though, 
after the first time he ran with the 
ball, and they all piled up on him 
and he didn't get up. He lay there, 
looking so ghostly and breathing so 
harshly and with the trickle of 
blood coming out of his ears. But 
Jeff didn't know they had stopped 

He recovered from that skull 
fracture, all right. Worse, though, 
than any of the unhappiness he suf- 
fered during his life, worse even 
than the shocks of his father's and 
mother's deaths, was the thing that 
happened to him when he was 
twenty and working at the labora- 
tories of a big drug company. 

He met and fell hopelessly in 
love with a girl named Nina, a girl 
a few years older than he was. They 
married and for the first few weeks 
Jeff McKinney had happiness he'd 



never known before. Until he came 
home from work sick, one after- 
noon and saw Nina with the man 
from the apartment over them. She 
didn't whine and beg for forgive- 
ness, Nina didn't. She stood boldly 
while the other man laughed and 
laughed and she screamed invective 
upon Jefferson McKinney, telling 
him what she really thought of him, 
a gloomy, puny weakling who 
couldn't even make a decent living, 
telling him that she was through 
with him. 

A blank spot came into Jeffs life 
right them. When it was over, Nina 
and the other man were on the 
floor and there was blood on the 
kitchen carving knife in Jeff's hand. 

They didn't find him for awhile. 
He changed his name and appear- 
ance and hid in the soiled seams 
and ragged fringes of society. He 
learned the anaesthetic powers of 
drugs and alcohol. He gave up try- 
ing to get anything out of this life. 
Then they finally picked him up, 
fished him from the river into 
which he'd jumped. There were 
days of torture after that, without 
the alcohol and drugs his wrecked 
system craved. Right there was the 
final hell that could have broken 
him completely. But it didn't. It 
was like the terrible crisis after a 
long illness. Things began to get 
better, to go to the other extreme 
after that. 

A state psychiatrist brought Jeffs 
case to the attention of a noted 
criminal lawyer. Neither Nina nor 
her lover had died from their knife 
wounds. On the plea of the un- 
written law, Jeff McKinney got off 
with a suspended sentence. The 
lawyer and psychiatrist learned of 

his interest and knowledge and 
talent for chemistry and got him 
another job in the experimental 
laboratory of a big university. 

Later he married a girl named 
Elaine, who worked at the lab with 
him. They had two children, and 
lived in a small comfortable cottage 
just off the University campus. For 
several years, they had all they 
wanted of life — comfort, health, 
happiness. Jeff thought that life 
could never be more wonderful. All 
of his former, bitter, cynical views 
fell away from him. Hadn't he, 
with all odds against him, finally 
won out and acquired peace and 
contentment and a purpose in life? 
What was wrong with a world in 
which that could happen? 

Then there was the topper. Jeff- 
erson McKinney discovered a new 
drug which would cure and even- 
tually eliminate a disease that was 
one of the world's worst killers, the 
drug for which thousands of sci- 
entists had been seeking for years. 

He was feted and honored, be- 
came a national hero. The story of 
his life and his discovery tempo- 
rarily pushed even the doleful fore- 
casts of an early Third War, the 
Big War, off the front pages. And 
Jeff was humbly proud and grateful 
that he had paid now the debt he 
owed to a society that could make a 
final victory, like his, possible. 

In a zenith of almost holy hap- 
piness, he stood one evening on a 
lecture platform in a huge audi- 
torium in a great city, before thou- 
sands of worshipping people to 
make a thank-you speech after be- 
ing awarded a world prize for his 
great scientific discovery. 

(Continued on page 94) 

fz- ."W> 

The Arrow lanced down out of the night 
like a spear of flame, vengeful and deadly. 

The legends of Jaq Merril are legion — but legends. 
Hark, ye, then to the true story of the pirate bene- 
factor, of. Mankind!: 


By Alfred Coppel 

Illustrated by BOB MARTIN 

WE HUMANS are a strange 
breed, unique in the Uni- 
verse. Of all the races met among 
the stars, only homo sapiens thrives 
on deliberate self-delusion. Perhaps 
this is the secret of our greatness, 
for we are great. In power, if not 
in supernal wisdom. 

Legends, I think, are our 
strength. If one day a man stands 
on the rim of the Galaxy and looks 
out across the gulfs toward the 
seetee suns of Andromeda, it will 
be legends that drove him there. 

They are odd things, these 
legends, peopled with unreal crea- 
tures, magnificent heroes and des- 
picable villains. We stand for no 
nonsense where our mythology is 
concerned. A man becoming part 
of our folk-lore becomes a fey, one- 
dimensional, shadow-image of re- 

Jaq Merril — the Jaq Merril of 
the history books — is such an im- 
age. History^ folklore's jade, has 

daubed Merril with the rouge of 
myth, and it does not become him. 
The Peacemaker, the chronicles 
have named him, and that at least, 
is accurate in point of fact. But it 
was not through choice that he be- 
came the Peacemaker; and when 
his Peace descended over the 
worlds of space, Merril, the man, 
was finished. This I know, for I 
rode with him — his lieutenant in a 
dozen and more bloody fights that 
earned him his ironically pacific 

Not many now living will re- 
member the Wall Decade. History, 
ever pliable, is rewritten often, and 
facts are forgotten. When it was 
gone, the Wall Decade was remem- 
bered with shame and so was ex- 
punged from the record of time. 
But I remember it well. It was an 
era compounded of stupidity and 
grandeur, of brilliant discovery and 
grimy political maneuver. We, the 




greedy men of space — and that in- 
cludes Jaq Merril — saw it end with 
sorrow in our hearts, knowing that 
we had killed it. 

If you will think back to the 
years immediately preceding the 
Age of Space, you may remember 
the Iron Curtain. Among the na- 
tions of the Earth a great schism 
had arisen, and a wall of ideas was 
built between east and west. Hydro- 
gen bombs were stockpiled and 
armies marched and counter- 
marched threateningly. Men lived 
with fear and hatred and distrust. 

Then, suddenly, came the years 
of spaceflight and the expanding 
frontiers. Luna was passed. Mars 
and Venus and the Jovian Moons 
felt the tread of living beings for 
the first time since the dawn of 
time. The larger asteroids were 
taken and even the cold moonlets 
of Saturn and Uranus trembled 
under the blast of Terran rockets. 
But the Iron Curtain still existed. 
It was extended out into the gulf 
of space, an intangible wall of fear 
and suspicion. Thus was born the 
Wall Decade. 

Jaq Merril was made for that 
epoch. Ever in human history there- 
are those who profit from the stu- 
pidity of their fellows. Jaq Merril 
so profited. He dredged up the 
riches of space and took them for 
his own. And his weapon was man's 
fear of his brothers. 

IT WAS in Yakki, down-canal 
from the Terran settlement at 
Canalopolis, that Merril's plan was 
born. His ship, the Arrow, stood on 
the red sands of Syrtis Major, wait- 
ing for a payload to the Outer Sys- 

tem. It stood among a good many 
like it: the Moonmaid, the Gay 
Lady, the Argonaut, and my own 
vessel, the Starhound. 

We, the captains, had gathered 
in the Spaceman's Rest — a tinkling 
gin-mill peopled with human 
wrecks and hungry-eyed, dusty- 
skinned women who had come out 
to Mars hoping for riches and had 
found only the same squalor they 
had left behind. I remember the 
look in Merril's eyes as he spoke 
of the treasures of space that would 
never be ours, of the gold and 
sapphires, the rubies and unearthly 
gems of fragile beauty and great 
price. All the riches of the worlds 
of space, passing through our hands 
and into the vaults of the stay-at- 
homes who owned our ships and 
our very lives. It seemed to me that 
Merril suffered as though from 
physical pain as he spoke of riches. 
He was nothing if not rapacious. 
Greedy, venal, ruthless. All of that. 

"Five of us," he said in a hard 
voice, "Captains all — with ships 
and men. We carry the riches of 
the universe and let it slip through 
our fingers. What greater fools 
could there be?" 

Oh, he was right enough. We 
had the power to command in our 
hands without the sense to grasp it 
firmly and take what we chose. 

"And mark you, my friends," 
Merril said, "A wall has been built 
around Mars. A wall that weakens 
rather than strengthens. A wonder- 
ful, stupid, wall . . ." He laughed 
and glanced around the table at 
our faces, flushed with wine and 
greed. "With all space full of 
walls," he said softly, "Who could 
unite against us?" 



The question struck home. I 
thought of the five ships standing 
out there on the rusty desert across 
the silted canal. Five tall ships — 
against the stars. We felt no kinship 
to those at home who clung to 
creature comforts while we buck- 
eted among the stars risking our 
lives and more. We, the spacemen, 
had become a race apart from that 
of the home planet. And Merril 
saw this in our faces that night so 
long ago, and he knew that he had 
spoken our thoughts. 

Thus was born the Compact. 

Gods of space, but I must laugh 
when I read what history has re- 
corded of the Compact. 

"Merril, filled with the wonder 
of his great dream, spoke his mind 
to the Captains. He told them of 
the sorrow in his heart for his di- 
vided fellow men, and his face grew 
stern when he urged them to put 
aside ideology and prejudice and 
join with him in the Compact." 

So speaks Quintus Bland, his- 
torian of the Age of Space. I im- 
agine that I hear Merril's laughter 
even as I write. Oh, we put aside 
ideology and prejudice, all right! 
That night in Yakki the five Cap- 
tains clasped hands over the forma- 
tion of the first and only compact of 
space-piracy in history! 

IT WAS an all or nothing ven- 
ture. Our crews were told noth- 
ing, but their pockets were emptied 
and their pittances joined with 
ours. We loaded the five ships with 
supplies and thundered off into the 
cobalt Martian sky to seek a strong- 
hold. We found one readily enough. 
The chronicles do not record it ac- 

curately. They say that the fleet of 
the Compact based itself on Eros. 
This is incorrect. We wanted no 
Base that would bring us so close 
to the home planet every year. The 
asteroid we chose was nameless, 
and remained so. We spoke of it 
seldom aspace, but it was ever in 
our minds. There was no space 
Wall, there to divide us one from 
the other. It was a fortress against 
the rest of mankind, and in it we 
were brothers. 

When we struck for the first time, 
it was not at a Russian missile post 
as the histories say. It was at the 
Queen of Heaven, an undefended 
and unsuspecting merchantman. 
The records of Earth say the Queen 
was lost in space between Uranus 
and Mars, and this is so. But she 
was listed lost only because no Rus- 
sian or American patrol found her 
gutted hulk. I imagine that at this 
very moment she hangs out beyond 
Pluto, rounding the bend of the 
long ellipse we sent her on that day 
we stripped her bones. 

She carried gold and precious 
stones — and more important yet, 
women being furloughed home 
after forced labor in the mines of 
Soviet Umbriel. The Starhound 
and the Arrow bracketed her a mil- 
lion miles above the plane of the 
ecliptic near Saturn's orbit, and 
killed her. We drew abreast of her 
and forced her valves. We boarded 
her and took what we chose. Then 
we slaughtered her men and sent 
them on their long voyage. That 
was the beginning. 

The attack against Corfu was our 
next move. This is the battle that 
Celia Witmar Day has described in 
verse. Very bad verse. 



"Corfu slumbered, gorged and 

proud — 
While Arrow, Hound and 

Maid marshalled 
Freedom's might above the 

tyrant's ground, 
And rained down death — " 

There is much more, of course. 
Brave phrases of emotion and fan- 
ciful unreality written by one who 
never saw the night of space agleam 
with stars. 

There was no talk of tyranny or 
liberty aboard the Hound that day 
we leveled with the Maid and the 
Arrow a thousand miles over the 
Russian base of Corfu. There was 
talk of the bullion stored under the 
fortress' turrets. 

Merril's face appeared in my 
visor screen, superimposed on the 
image of the grimy little asteroid 
floating darkly against the star- 

"Their radar has picked us up 
by now, and they're wondering who 
we are," he said, "Take the Hound 
out on tangent left and join the 
Maid. Cover my attack and stand 
by to put a landing party aground." 

I watched the image of the 
Arrow— a sliver of darkness against 
the crescent of Corfu — lancing 
down at the fortress. Her forward 
tubes were glowing with the fa- 
miliar pre-discharge emanation. 

Below us, confusion reigned. For 
the first time in memory an asteroid 
Base was under attack. Merril 
brought the Arrow in to within fifty 
miles and then unleashed the fury 
of his forward tubes. Hellfire cor- 
uscated over the steel turrets and 
stone walls of Corfu. It splashed 
like a liquid flame over men arid 

metal and twisted the towers and 
buttresses into spidery tendrils of 
glowing thread. Corfu died with- 
out firing a shot. 

We put a party from the Hound 
aground ten hours later. Even then, 
we had to wear insulated suits to 
walk in that still molten inferno. 
Charred bodies had become one 
with the stuff of the fortress, and 
nothing living was left within the 
keep. We looted Corfu's treasure 
and lifted into space heavy with 

Time passed in an orgy of loot- 
ing for the men of the Compact. 
We grew rich and arrogant, for in 
space we were kings. Torn by sus- 
picion of one another, America and 
Russia could do nothing against us. 
They had built an Iron Curtain in 
space, and it kept them divided 
and weak. 

Endymion felt our blasts, and 
Clio. Then came Tethys, Rhea, 
Iapetus. We cared nothing for the 
flag these Bases flew. They were 
the gathering points for all the gold 
and treasure of space and we of the 
Compact took what we wished of 
it, leaving a trail of blood and 
rapine behind us. No nation 
claimed our loyalty; space was our 
mother and lust our father. 

Thus, the Peacemakers. 

FOR FIVE full years— the long 
years of the Outer Belt — the 
Arrow, the Starhound, the Moon- 
maid, the Lady and the Argonaut 
were the scourges of the spacelanes. 
No patrol could find us, and no de- 
fense could contain us. I recall how 
we laughed at the angry sputtering 



of Earth's radio. Vast sums were 
spent in searches and new weapons 
to protect the meek and the mu- 
tually distrustful from Merril and 
the men of the Compact. Budgets, 
already strained to the breaking 
point by generations of the cold 
war, creaked and groaned as Rus- 
sians and Americans spent furiously 
to build up their defenses against 
our depredations. But though we 
were few and they many — space 
was large and it hid us well. 

And then one darkling day, Jaq 
Merril and I stood on the thin 
methane snow that carpeted our 
Base's landing ramp, waiting under 
our own blue-black sky for the re- 
turn of the Argonaut. Merril had 
sent her sunward to strike at the 
mines of Loki, an asteroid where 
Russian komisars rolled in moun- 
tains of blood-red rubies. 

We waited through the day and 
into the sable night, but the Argo- 
naut did not return. For the first 
time since the formation of the 
Compact, we had lost a ship, and 
something like unease crept into 
our hearts. The carousal that night 
had no gaiety, and there was the 
sound of bereaved women weeping. 

Merril could learn nothing of the 
Argonaut's fate. It was as though 
she had dropped through a hole in 
the fabric of space itself and van- 
ished from the ken of men. To me 
he said: "I fear a new weapon." 
But to the rest, he kept his peace 
and let the work of the Compact 
continue. There was nothing else 
to be done. Our Wall Decade was 
waning, and when a man or a Com- 
pact outlives the age that gave him 
or it birth, there is nothing to do 
but go forward and meet the new 

day dawning. 

So it was with the Compact. We 
lived on as we had lived before: 
looting and killing and draining the 
wealth of space into our coffers. But 
in the back of our minds a shadow 
was lurking. 

On the next raid, the Lady was 
lost. I saw it happen, as did Merril. 
There was nothing we could do to 
help her, and she died, spilling men 
into the void as she ruptured in her 
last agony. 

It was off Hyperion, whence we 
had come to loot the trove built 
there by the prospectors of the 
Saturnian Moons. And it was a 

The Arrow, the Hound and the 
Lady circled the moonlet, swinging 
inward to the attack. It was the 
Lady who was to put aground the 
raiding party, and her valves hung 
open while men readied the assault- 
boats. Our radar screens showed 
nothing of danger. There was only 
the bloated giant in the sky, a 
ringed monster of yellow gold 
against the starry velvet of space. 

The Lady dropped her boats, the 
Hound and the Arrow hovering by 
to watch over their sister. And sud- 
denly, the jagged moonscape below 
erupted — belching streaks of fire 
that sought us like probing fingers. 
I knew in one single instant of ter- 
ror that this was the new weapon 
that had killed the Argonaut, for it 
sliced into the Lady's flanks as 
though the steelite hull were cheese. 

She bulged, glowing like an em- 
ber. There was a sudden nimbus of 
snow about her as her air escaped 
and froze, and then she rolled into 
her death-dance, open from bow 
to stern, spilling scorched corpses 



into the void. 

The Arrow and the Hound 
drove off into space like furies leav- 
ing the spinning body of their sister 
ship behind, not waiting to watch 
her crash down onto the rocky face 
of Hyperion. And now the five of 
the Compact were only three, and 
again there was the sound of weep- 
ing among our women. 

TWO MONTHS after thaFen- 
gagement, a single assault-boat 
returned to Base. It was the lone 
survivor of the Lady's landing 
party. By some miracle, the three 
men aboard had escaped the holo- 
caust. They had landed and been 
captured and then they had fought 
their way free and into the void 
once more. They were half-dead 
from starvation and exposure, but 
they had brought word to Merril 
that the wall that had so long pro- 
tected us was crumbling. 

Merril sought me out, his lean 
hard face grim and set. 

"There was a Russian among the 
Americans on Hyperion," he said. 

"A prisoner?" It was my hope 
that spoke so, not my sure knowl- 
edge of what was to come. 

Merril shook his head slowly. "A 
technician. They developed the 
beam that killed the Argonaut and 
the Lady — together." His voice was 
harsh and bleak. Then suddenly he 
laughed. "We've touched them," 
he said, "Touched them on their 
tender spot — -their purses." He 
bowed low, filled with bitter mock- 
ery. "Behold the diplomats, the 
men who are accomplishing the 

And I knew that his words spelt 

doom. Doom for the Compact and 
for the Wall Decade that was our 

Yet we did not stint. In that year 
we raided Dione, Io, Gannymede, 
and even the American naval Base 
on Callisto. We gutted six Russian 
and four American rockets filled 
with treasure. And we ventured 
sunward as far as the moons of 
• Mars. 

We dared battles with patrol 
ships and won. We killed the de- 
stroyer Alexei Tolstoi off Europa 
and we shattered an American 
monitor over Syrtis itself, and 
watched the wreckage rain down 
on Yakki, the place where the Com- 
pact was born. 

And we lost the Moonmaid. 

The radio told us the story. 
Other new weapons were being de- 
veloped against us, and here and 
there American and Russian space- 
craft were seen in company for the 
first time in the history of the Age 
of Space. Convoys were formed 
from ships of both flags to protect 
spatial commerce from the im- 
agined "great fleet" of the Com- 
pact. None knew that only the Ar- 
row and the Starhound, small ships, 
weary ships, were left to face the 
slowly combining might of Earth. 

And then at last, the pickings — 
growing slimmer always — dimin- 
ished to the vanishing point. Merril 
stood before us and gave the assem- 
bled crews their option. 

"The treasure hunt is over," our 
captain told us, "And those who 
wish may withdraw now. Take 
your women and the space-boats 
and return to Mars. You have your 
shares, and you can live in comfort 



wherever you may choose. If you 
wish it, go now." 

Some few did go, but most re- 
mained. I watched Merril's face, 
and saw one last plan maturing 
there. Then he spoke again and we 
all understood. One last raid . . . 
to take Luna and command the 

"Still the unity of Mankind was 
not secure, and Merril, filled with 
impatience for his great dream, de- 
cided on one final stroke. He would 
descend on Luna Base itself with 
his fleet, and commanding all 
Earth, he would drive men to- 
gether — even though it might 
mean his own death. With this plan 
of self-immolation in his heart, the 
Peacemaker ordered his hosts and 
sought the pumice soil of the moth' 
er planet's moon. . ." 

This is the way Quintus Bland, 
historian and scholar puts it down 
for posterity. I, one of "his hosts", 
would say it another way. 

We had gutted the Solar System 
of its treasure and at last men were 
uniting against us. Our "fleet" was 
reduced to two small ships and a 
bare handful of men and women 
to fight them. Jaq Merril could see 
the handwriting on the wall and he 
knew that all must be gambled on 
one last throw of the dice. Only 
with Terra herself under our guns 
could we hope to continue sucking 
the juice of the worlds into our 
mouths. It was all or nothing, for 
we had grown used to our life and 
we could no longer change it to 
meet the demands of the dawning 
age of Soviet-American amity. 

SIDE BY SIDE the Arrow and 
the Hound slanted sunward. 
Mars behind us, ahead lay the 
Earth-Moon system. Ten years had 
passed since any of us aboard the 
Compact ships had seen the home 
world, and though we no longer felt 
a part of it, the sight of the silvery 
cloud-flecked globe touched our 
hearts. Touched them as the 
sapphires of Mimas or the gold of 
Corfu touched them. We saw the 
planet that gave us birth and we 
were filled with hunger for it. To 
own it, command it, make it our 

Luna's mountains were white 
and stark under our keels as Merril 
led us across the curve of the 
southern horizon, seeking to put 
us into position to attack the UN 
Moon Base in Clavius from the 
direction of the Moon's hidden 

We swung low across unnamed 
mountain ranges and deep sheer 
valleys steeped in shadow. The 
voice of the ranger in the Arrow 
came softly through the open inter- 
com into the tiny control room of 
the Hound. A woman's voice, tense 
with excitement, but disciplined 
and controlled. 

"Range five hundred miles, four 
seventy five, four fifty — " 

And then Merril's voice, calm 
and reassuring, giving heart to all 
the untried ones aboard with his 
steady conning commands. 

"Four o'clock jet, easy, hold her. 
Drivers up one half standard. 
Steady goes. Meet her. Steady — " 

Line astern now, the two ships 
flashing low across the jagged lunar 
landscape, and a world in the ba- 
lance — 



An alarm bell ringing suddenly, 
and my screen showing the fleeting 
outline of a Russian monitor above, 
running across our stern. My own 
voice, sharp with command: 

"Gun pointer!" 

"Here sir!" 

"Get me that gunboat." 

The Hound's turret wound about 
with agonizing slowness as the 
monitor reached for the sky, claw- 
ing for altitude and safety. And 
then there came a searing blast of 
fire and the fragments of the Rus- 
sian gunboat raining down lazily, 
seeking their eternal rest in the 
pumice of Luna's hidden face. 

But they had been warned at the 
UN Base. The monitor had left one 
dying shriek in the ether, and the 
waiting garrison had heard. Merril 
knew it, and so did I. We moved 
forward calmly, into the jaws of 

The Arrow attacked from ten 
o'clock, low on the horizon, the 
Hound from twelve o'clock high. 
We swept in over the batteries of 
pulsating projectors, raining down 
our bombs. The ground shuddered 
and shook with the fury of explod- 
ing uranium and the sky was laced 
with a net of fiery death. The 
Hound shrieked her protest as I 
swung her about for another attack. 

There was a sickening swerve and 
the smell of ozone in my ship. 
Somewhere, deep within her, a 
woman screamed and I felt the 
deck under me give as one of the 
questing beams from the fortress 
below cut into the hull. Airtight 
doors slammed throughout the 
wounded vessel, and I drove her to 
the attack again, hard. The last of 

the bombs clattered out of the 
events, sending mushrooms of pum- 
ice miles into the black sky. One 
battery of guns below fell silent. 

The Arrow vanished into the 
night above and as suddenly reap- 
peared, her forward tubes spewing 
red fire onto the Base below. Then 
Merril pulled her up again and dis- 
appeared among the pale stars. 

The Hound's hurt was mortal, I 
could feel her dying under my 
hands, and tears streaked my face. 
Below decks, she was a shambles 
where the cutting beam from the 
ground had torn part of her heart 
out. Still I fought her. There was no 
retreat from this last raid, nor did 
I wish any. There was a madness in 
us — a blood-lust as hot and de- 
manding as ever our lust for gold 
and treasure might have been. 

I lashed the face of the fortress 
with the Hound's forward tubes, 
frantically, filled with a hateful an- 
guish. I felt my ship losing way, 
twisting and seeking rest on the 
jagged ground below, and thinking 
he had deserted us, I cursed Merril 
in an ecstacy of blind fury. 

Again and again the Hound was 
hit. I knew then that Merril's plan 
had been madness, a last gesture of 
defiance to the new age of unity 
among men. The Hound fell at last, 
spitting fire and gall in a futile 
dance of death. 

She struck on a high plateau, 
grinding into the pumice, rolling 
with macabre abandon across the 
face of the high tableland. Then at 
last she was still, hissing and groan- 
ing fitfully as she died, her buc- 
caneering days gone forever. 

I donned a suit and staggered, 
half dazed, out into the lunar night. 



A half-dozen men and women from 
the crew had survived the impact 
and they stood by the wreckage, 
faces under the plastic helmets 
turned skyward. They were one and 
all stunned and bleeding from the 
violence of the Hound's end, but 
they looked neither back nor 
around them. Their eyes were filled 
with the insane glory of the drama 
being enacted in the sky. 

The Arrow had returned. She 
lanced down out of the night like a 
spear of flame, vengeful and deadly. 
Straight into the mouth of the 
screaming guns she dove, death 
spilling from her tubes. She bathed 
the Moon Base in fire, searing the 
men within — Russian and Ameri- 
can alike — into the brotherhood of 

Miraculously, she pulled up out 
of her encircling net of flame. We 
watched in openmouthed wonder 
as she reached with sobbing heart 
for the sky just once again — and 
then, failing, crippled and dying, 
she hung above the crater's rim, 
framed with deadly beams from 
below, but radiant in her own right 
— gleaming in the light of the sun. 

This was defeat. We knew it as 
we stood by the tangled pile of 
steelite that had been the Hound 
and watched the Arrow die. But 
nothing in this life that I have lived 
ever told me so grandly that the 
Wall Decade was ended — and our 
life of buccaneering with it — as the 
thing that happened next. 

The Arrow's valve opened and 

a tiny figure stepped out— into 
space. I did not need to be told that 
Jaq Merril was coming to meet the 
men he had welded together against 

Lazily, unreally, the tiny shape 
twisted over and over as it fell, until 
at last it vanished amid the raw 
welter of craters and ridges beyond 
the razor wall of Clavius . . . 

I HAVE TOLD a true tale, 
though one that will not be be- 
lieved. I have taken the Peacemaker 
of the histories and painted him as 
he was. 

But men are ashamed, and the 
chronicles of history must be re- 
written to hide their weaknesses, 
Jaq Merril has become a legend, 
and the man that I knew is forgot- 

Merril — pirate, fighter, grandiose 
dreamer. That was my captain. Not 
the colorless do-good creature of 
the legend. Merril fought for lust 
and greed, and these are the things 
that will one day take men to the 
stars. He knew this truth, of course, 
and that was the substance of his 
great dream. Because of it, there 
are no longer walls in space, and 
the men who united to fight the 
Peacemaker will one day rule the 

Meanwhile, chroniclers will write 
lies about him, and Jaq Merril's 
laughter will echo in some ghostly 
Valhalla beyond the farthest star. 

■ THE END - 

/ put my arms around her shoulders 
but there was no way 1 could comfort 

There is a time for doing and a time for going home. 
But where is home in an ever-changing universe? 


By Mari Wolf 

Illustrated by BOB MARTIN 

IEWIS," Martha said. "I want 
l to go home." 

She didn't look at me. I followed 
her gaze to Earth, rising in the 

It came up over the desert hori- 
zon, a clear, bright star at this dis- 
tance. Right now it was the Morn- 
ing Star. It wasn't long before 

I looked back at Martha sitting 
quietly beside me with her shawl 
drawn tightly about her knees. She 
had waited to see it also, of course. 
It had become almost a ritual with 
us these last few years, staying up 
night after night to watch the 

She didn't say anything more. 
Even the gentle squeak of her rock- 
ing chair had fallen silent. Only her 
hands moved. I could see them 
trembling where they lay folded 
in her lap, trembling with emotion 
and tiredness and old age. I knew 

what she was thinking. After sev- 
enty years there can be no secrets. 

We sat on the glassed-in veranda 
of our Martian home looking up at 
the Morning Star. To us it wasn't a 
point of light. It was the continents 
and oceans of Earth, the moun- 
tains and meadows and laughing 
streams of our childhood. We saw 
Earth still, though we had lived on 
Mars for almost sixty-six years. 

"Lewis," Martha whispered soft- 
ly. "It's very bright tonight, isn't 

"Yes," I said. 

"It seems so near." 

She sighed and drew the shawl 
higher about her waist. 

"Only three months by rocket 
ship," she said. "We could be back 
home in three months, Lewis, if we 
went out on this week's run." 

I nodded. For years we'd 
watched the rocket ships streak up- 
ward through the thin Martian at- 




mosphere, and we'd envied the 
men who so casually travelled from 
world to world. But it had been a 
useless envy, something of which 
we rarely spoke. 

Inside our veranda the air was 
cool and slightly moist. Earth air, 
perfumed with the scent of Earth 
roses. Yet we knew it was only illu- 
sion. Outside, just beyond the glass, 
the cold night air of Mars lay thin 
and alien and smelling of alkali. It 
seemed to me tonight that I could 
smell that ever-dry Martian dust, 
even here. I sighed, fumbling for 
my pipe. 

"Lewis," Martha said, very 

"What is it?" I cupped my hands 
over the match flame. 

"Nothing. It's just that I wish — 
I wish we could go home, right 
away. Home to Earth. I want to 
see it again, before we die." 

"We'll go back," I said. "Next 
year for sure. We'll have enough 
money then." 

She sighed. "Next year may be 
too late." 

I looked over at her, startled. 
She'd never talked like that before. 
I started to protest, but the words 
died away before I could even 
speak them. She was right. Next 
year might indeed be too late. 

Her work-coarsened hands were 
thin, too thin, and they never 
stopped shaking any more. Her 
body was a frail shadow of what it 
had once been. Even her voice was 
frail now. 

She was old. We were both old. 
There wouldn't be many more 
Martian summers for us, nor many 
years of missing Earth. 

"Why can't we go back this year, 


She smiled at me almost apolo- 
getically. She knew the reason as 
well as I did. 

"We can't," I said. "There's not 
enough money." 

"There's enough for our tickets." 

I'd explained all that to her be- 
fore, too. Perhaps she'd forgotten 
Lately I often had to explain thing 
more than once. 

"You can't buy passage unless 
you have enough extra for insur- 
ance, and travelers' checks, and 
passport tax. The company has to 
protect -itself. Unless you're finan- 
cially responsible, they won't take 
you on the ships." 

She shook her head. "Sometimes 
I wonder if we'll ever have 

WE'D SAVED our money for 
years, but it was a pitifully 
small savings. We weren't rich peo- 
ple who could go down to the 
spaceport and buy passage on the 
rocket ships, no questions asked, no 
bond required. We were only farm- 
ers, eking our livelihood from the 
unproductive Martian soil, only 
two of the countless little people of 
the solar system. In all our lifetime 
we'd never been able to save 
enough to go home to Earth. 

"One more year," I said. "If the 
crop prices stay up. . ." 

She smiled, a sad little smile that 
didn't reach her eyes. "Yes, Lewis," 
she said. "One more year." 

But I couldn't stop thinking of 
what she'd said earlier, nor stop see- 
ing her thin, tired body. Neither of 
us was strong any more, but of the 
two I was far stronger than she. 



When we'd left Earth she'd been 
as eager and graceful as a child. 
We hadn't been much past child- 
hood then, either of us. . . . 

"Sometimes I wonder why we 
ever came here," she said. 

"It's been a good life." 

She sighed. "I know. But now 
that it's nearly over, there's nothing 
to hold us here." 

"No," I said. "There's not." 

If we had had children it might 
have been different. As it was, we 
lived surrounded by the children 
and grandchildren of our friends. 
Our friends themselves were dead. 
One by one they had died, all of 
those who came with us on the 
first colonizing ship to Mars. All of 
those who came later, on the second 
and third ships. Their children 
were our neighbors now — and they 
were Martian born. It wasn't the 

She leaned over and pressed my 
hand. "We'd better go in, Lewis," 
she said. "We need our sleep." 

Her eyes were raised again to 
the green star that was Earth. 
Watching her, I knew that I loved 
her now as much as when we had 
been young together. More, really, 
for we had added years of shared 
memories. I wanted so much to 
give her what she longed for, what 
we both longed for. But I couldn't 
think of any way to do it. Not this 

Once, almost seventy years be- 
fore, I had smiled at the girl who 
had just promised to become my 
wife, and I'd said: "I'll give you 
the world, darling. All tied up in 
pink ribbons." 

I didn't want to think about that 

We got up and went into the 
house and shut the veranda door 
behind us. 

I COULDN'T go to sleep. For 
hours I lay in bed staring up at 
the shadowed ceiling, trying to 
think of some way to raise the 
money. But there wasn't any way 
that I could see. It would be at 
least eight months before enough 
of the greenhouse crops were har- 

What would happen, I won- 
dered, if I went to the spaceport 
and asked for tickets? If I ex- 
plained that we couldn't buy in- 
surance, that we couldn't put up 
the bond guaranteeing we wouldn't 
become public charges back on 
Earth. . . . But all the time I won- 
dered I knew the answer. Rules 
were rules. They wouldn't be 
broken especially not for two old 
farmers who had long outlived 
their usefulness and their time. 

Martha sighed in her sleep and 
turned over. It was light enough 
now for me to see her face clearly. 
She was smiling. But a minute ago 
she had been crying, for the tears 
were still wet on her cheeks. 

Perhaps she was dreaming of 
Earth again. 

Suddenly, watching her, I didn't 
care if they laughed at me or lec- 
tured me on my responsibilities to 
the government as if I were a 
senile fool. I was going to the space- 
port. I was going to find out if, 
somehow, we couldn't go back. 

I got up and dressed and went 
out, walking softly so as not to 
awaken her. But even so she heard 
me and called out to me. 



"Lewis " 

I turned at the head of the stairs 
and looked back into the room. 

"Don't get up, Martha," I said. 
"I'm going into town." 

"All right, Lewis." 

She relaxed, and a minute later 
she was asleep again. I tiptoed 
downstairs and out the front door 
to where the trike car was parked, 
and started for the village a mile 
to the west. 

It was desert all the way. Dry, 
fine red sand that swirled upward 
in choking clouds, if you stepped 
off the pavement into it. The nar- 
row road cut straight through it, 
linking the outlying district farms 
to the town. The farms themselves 
were planted in the desert. Small, 
glassed-in houses and barns, and 
large greenhouses roofed with even 
more glass, that sheltered the Earth 
plants and gave them Earth air to 

WHEN I came to the second 
farmhouse John Emery hurried 
out to meet me. 

"Morning, Lewis," he said. "Go- 
ing to town?" 

I shut off the motor and nodded. 
"I want to catch the early shuttle 
plane to the spaceport," I said. 
"I'm going to the city to buy some 
things. . ." 

I had to lie about it. I didn't 
want anyone to know we were even 
thinking of leaving, at least not un- 
til we had our tickets in our hands. 

"Oh," Emery said. "That's right. 
I suppose you'll be buying Martha 
an anniversary present." 

I stared at him blankly. I 
couldn't think what anniversary he 


"You'll have been here thirty- 
five years next week," he said. 
"That's a long time, Lewis. . ." 

Thirty-five years. It took me a 
minute to realize what he meant. 
He was right. That was how long 
we had been here, in Martian years. 

The others, those who had been 
born here on Mars, always used the 
Martian seasons. We had too, once. 
But lately we forgot, and counted 
in Earth time. It seemed more 

"Wait a minute, Lewis," Emery 
said. "I'll ride into the village with 
you. There's plenty of time for you 
to make your plane." 

I went up on his veranda and sat 
down and waited for him to get 
ready. I leaned back in the swing 
chair and rocked slowly back and 
forth, wondering idly how many 
times I'd sat here. 

This was old Tom Emery's 
house. Or had been, until he died 
eight years ago. He'd built this 
swing chair the very first year we'd 
been on Mars. 

Now it was young John's. 
Young? That showed how old we 
were getting. John was sixty-three, 
in Earth years. He'd been born 
that second winter, the month the 
parasites got into the green- 
houses. . . 

He came back out onto the 
veranda. "Well, I'm ready, Lewis," 
he said. 

We went down to my trike car 
and got in. 

"You and Martha ought to get 
out more," he said. "Jenny's been 
asking me why you don't come to 
call." ' • 

I shrugged. I couldn't tell him ; 



we seldom went out because when 
we did we were always set apart 
and treated carefully, like children. 
He probably didn't even realize 
that it was so. 

"Oh," I said. "We like it at 

He smiled. "I suppose you do, 
after thirty-five years." 

I started the motor quickly, and 
from then on concentrated on my 
driving. He didn't say anything 

IT TOOK only a few minutes to 
get to the village, but even so I 
was tired. Lately it grew harder and 
harder to drive, to keep the trike 
car on the narrow strip of pave- 
ment. I was glad when we pulled 
up in the square and got out. 

"I'll walk over to the plane with 
you," Emery said. "I've got plenty 
of time." 

"All right." 

"By the way, Lewis, Jenny and I 
and some of the neighbors thought 
we'd drop over on your anniver- 

"That's fine," I said, trying to 
sound enthusiastic. "Come on 

"It's a big event," he said. "De- 
serves a celebration." 

The shuttle plane was just land- 
ing. I hurried over to the ticket win- 
dow, with him right beside me. 

"I just wanted to be sure you'd 
be home," he said. "We wouldn't 
want you to miss your own party." 

"Party?" I said. "But John—" 

He wouldn't even let me finish 

"Now don't ask any questions, 
Lewis. You wouldn't want to spoil 

the surprise, would you?" 

He chuckled. "Your plane's load- 
ing now. You'd better be going. 
Thanks for the ride, Lewis." 

I went across to the plane and 
got in. I hoped that somehow we 
wouldn't have to spend that Mar- 
tian anniversary being congratula- 
ted and petted and babied. I didn't 
think Martha could stand it. But 
there wasn't any polite way to say 

IT WASN'T a long trip to the 
spaceport. In less than an hour 
the plane dropped down to the air 
strip that flanked the rocket field. 
But it was like flying from one civi- 
lization to another. 

The city was big, almost like an 
Earth city. There was lots of traffic, 
cars and copters and planes. All the 
bustle of the spaceways stations. 

But although the city looked like 
Earth, it smelled as dry and alka- 
line as all the rest of Mars. 

I found the ticket office easily 
enough and went in. The young 
clerk barely glanced up at me. 
"Yes?" he said. 

"I want to inquire about tickets 
to Earth," I said. 

My hands were sweating, and I 
could feel my heart pounding too 
fast against my ribs. But my voice 
sounded casual, just the way I 
wanted it to sound. 

"Tickets?" the clerk said. "How 

"Two. How much would they 
cost? Everything included." 

"Forty-two eighty," he said. His 
voice was still bored. "I could give 
them to you for the flight after 
next. Tourist class, of course . . ." 



We didn't have that much. We 
were at least three hundred short. 

"Isn't there any way," I said hesi- 
tantly, "that I could get them for 
less? I mean, we wouldn't need in- 
surance, would we?" 

He looked up at me for the first 
time, startled. "You don't mean you 
want them for yourself, do you?" 

"Why yes. For me and my wife." 

He shook his head. "I'm sorry," 
he said flatly. "But that would be 
impossible in any case. You're too 

He turned away from me and 
bent over his desk work again. 

The words hung in the air. Too 
old . . . too old ... I clutched the 
edge of the desk and steadied my- 
self and forced down the panic I 
could feel rising. 

"Do you mean," I said slowly, 
"that you wouldn't sell us tickets 
even if we had the money?" 

He glanced up again, obviously 
annoyed at my persistence. "That's 
right. No passengers over seventy 
carried without special visas. Medi- 
cal precaution." 

I just stood there. This couldn't 
be happening. Not after all our 
years of working and saving and 
planning for the future. Not go 
back Not even next year. Stay here, 
because we were old and frail and 
the ships wouldn't be bothered with 
us anyway. 

Martha. . . How could I tell her? 
How could I say, "We can't go 
home, Martha. They won't let us." 

I couldn't say it. There had to be 
some other way. 

"Pardon me," I said to the clerk, 
"but who should I see about get- 
ting a visa?" 

He swept the stack of papers 

away with an impatient gesture and 
frowned up at me. 

"Over at the colonial office, I 
suppose," he said. "But it won't do 
you any good." 

I could read in his eyes what he 
thought of me. Of me and all the 
other farmers who lived in the out- 
lying districts and raised crops and 
seldom came to the city. My clothes 
were old and provincial and out of 
style, and so was I, to him. 

"I'll try it anyway," I said. 

He started to say something, then 
bit it back and looked away from 
me again. I was keeping him from 
his work. I was just a rude old man 
interfering with the operation of 
the spaceways. 

Slowly I iet go of the desk and 
turned to leave. It was hard to 
walk. My knees were trembling, 
and my whole body shook. It was 
all I could do not to cry. It angered 
me, the quavering in my voice and 
the weakness in my legs. 

I went out into the hall and 
looked for the directory that would 
point the way to the colonial office. 
It wasn't far off. 

I walked out onto the edge of the 
field and past the Earth rocket, its 
silver nose pointed up at the sky. I 
couldn't bear to look at it for longer 
than a minute. 

It was only a few hundred yards 
to the colonial office, but it seemed 
like miles. 

THIS OFFICE was larger than 
the other, and much more com- 
fortable. The man seated behind 
the desk seemed friendlier too. 
"May I help you?" he asked. 
"Yes," I said slowly. "The man 



at the ticket office told me to come 
here. I wanted to see about getting 
a permit to go back to Earth . . ." 

His smile faded. "For yourself?" 

"Yes," I said woodenly. "For my- 
self and my wife." 

"Well, Mr. . . ." 

"Farwell. Lewis Farwell." 

"My name's Duane. Please sit 
down, won't you? . . . How old are 
you, Mr. Farwell?" 

"Eighty-seven," I said. "In Earth 

He frowned. "The regulations 
say no space travel for people past 
seventy, except in certain special 
cases . . ." 

I looked down at my hands. They 
were shaking badly. I knew he 
could see them shake, and was 
judging me as old and weak and 
unable to stand the trip. He 
couldn't know why I was trembling. 

"Please," I whispered. "It 
wouldn't matter if it hurt us. It's 
just that we want to see Earth 
again. It's been so long . . ." 

"How long have you been here, 
Mr. Farwell?" It was merely polite- 
ness. There wasn't any promise in 
his voice. 

"Sixty-five years." I looked up at 
him. "Isn't there some way — " 

"Sixty-five years? But that means 
you must have come here on the 
first colonizing ship." 

"Yes," I said. "We did." 

"I can't believe it," he said slow- 
ly* "I can't believe I'm actually 
looking at one of the pioneers." He 
shook his head. "I didn't even know 
any of them were still on Mars." 

"We're the last ones," I said. 
"That's the main reason we want 
to go back. It's awfully hard stay- 
ing on when your friends are dead." 

DUANE got up and crossed the 
room to the window and looked 
out over the rocket field. 

"But what good would it do to 
go back, Mr. Farwell?" he asked. 
"Earth has changed very much in 
the last sixty-five years." 

He was trying to soften the dis- 
appointment. But nothing could. If 
only I could make him realize that. 

"I know it's changed," I said. 
"But it's home. Don't you see? 
We're Earthmen still. I guess that 
never changes. And now that we're 
old, we're aliens here." 

"We're all aliens here, Mr. Far- 

"No," I said desperately. "May- 
be you are. Maybe a lot of the city 
people are. But our neighbors were 
born on Mars. To them Earth is a 
legend. A place where their ances- 
tors once lived. It's not real to 
them. . . ." 

He turned and crossed the room 
and came back to me. His smile was 
pitying. "If you went back," he 
said, "you'd find you were a Mar- 
tian, too." 

I couldn't reach him. He was 
friendly and pleasant and he was 
trying to make things easier, and it 
wasn't any use talking. I bent my 
head and choked back the sobs I 
could feel rising in my throat. 

"You've lived a full life," Duane 
said. "You were one of the pioneers. 
I remember reading about your 
ship when I was a boy, and wishing 
I'd been born sooner so that I could 
have been on it." 

Slowly I raised my head and 
looked up at him. 

"Please," I said. "I know that. 
I'm glad we came here. If we had 
our lives to live over, we'd come 



attain. We'd go through all the 
hardships of those first few years, 
and enjoy them just as much. We'd 
be just as thrilled over proving that 
it's possible to farm a world like 
this, where it's always freezing and 
the air is thin and nothing will grow 
outside the greenhouses. You don't 
need to tell me what we've done, or 
what we've gotten out of it. We, 
know. We've had a wonderful life 

"But you still want to go back?" 

"Yes," I said. "We still want to 
go back. We're tired of living in the 
past, with our friends dead and 
nothing to do except remember." 

He looked at me for a long mo- 
ment. Then he said slowly, "You 
realize, don't you, that if you went 
back to Earth you'd have to stay 
there? You couldn't return to 
Mars. ..." 

"I realize that," I said. "That's 
what we want. We want to die at 
home. On Earth." 

FOR A LONG, long moment his 
eyes never left mine. Then, slow- 
ly, he sat down at his desk and 
reached for a pen. 

"All right, Mr. Farweli," he said. 
"I'll give you a visa." 

I couldn't believe it. I stared at 
him, sure that I'd misunderstood. 

"Sixty-five years . . ." He shook 
his head. "I only hope I'm doing 
the right thing. I hope you won't 
regret this." 

"We won't," I whispered. 

Then I remembered that we were 
still short of money. That that was 
why I'd come to the spaceport 
originally. I was almost afraid to 
mention it, for fear I'd lose every- 


"Is there — is there some way we 
could be excused from the insur- 
ance?" I said. "So we could go back 
this year? We're three hundred 

He smiled. It was a very reassur- 
ing smile. "You don't need to worry 
about the money," he said. "The 
colonial office can take care of that. 
After all, we owe your generation a 
great debt, Mr. Farweli. A passport 
tax and the fare to Earth are little 
enough to pay for a planet." 

I didn't quite understand him, 
but that didn't matter. The only 
thing that mattered was that we 
were going home. Back to Earth. I 
could see Martha's face when I told 
her. I could see her tears of happi- 
ness ... 

There were tears on my own 
cheeks, but I wasn't ashamed of 
them now. 

"Mr. Farweli," Duane said. 
"You go back home. The shuttle 
ship will be leaving in a few min- 

"You mean that — " I started. 

He nodded. "I'll get your tickets 
for you. On the first ship I can. Just 
leave it to me." 

"It's too much trouble," I pro- 

"No it's not." He smiled. "Be- 
sides, I'd like to bring them out to 
you. I'd like to see your farm, if I 

Then I remembered what John 
Emery had said this morning about 
our anniversary. It would be a won- 
derful celebration, now that there 
was something to celebrate. We 
could even save our announcement 
that we were going home until 



"Mr. Duane," I said. "Next 
week, on the tenth, we'll have been 
here thirty-five Martian years. 
Maybe you'd like to come out then. 
I guess our neighbors will be giving 
us a sort of party." 

He laid the pen down and looked 
at me very intently. "They don't 
know you're planning to leave yet, 
do they?" 

"No. We'll wait and tell them 

Duane nodded slowly. "I'll be 
there," he promised. 

MARTHA was out on the veran- 
da again, looking down the 
road toward the village. All after- 
noon at least one of us had been out 
there watching for our guests, wait- 
ing for our anniversary celebration 
to begin. 

"Do you see anyone yet?" I 

"No," she said. "Not yet . . ." 

I looked around the room hop- 
ing I'd find something left undone 
that I could work on, so I wouldn't 
have to sit and worry about the 
possibility of Duane's having for- 
gotten us. But everything was ready. 
The extra chairs were out and the 
furniture all dusted, and Martha's 
cakes and cookies arranged on the 

I couldn't sit still. Not today. I 
got up out of the chair and joined 
her on the veranda. 

"I wonder what their surprise 
is . . ." she said. "Didn't John give 
you any hint at all?" 

"No," I said. "But whatever it is, 
it can't be half as wonderful as 

She reached for my hand. 

"Lewis," she whispered. "I can 
hardly believe it, can you?" 

"No," I said. "But it's true. We're 
really going." 

I put my arm around her, and 
she rested her head against me. 

"I'm so happy, Lewis." 

Her cheeks were full of color 
once again, and her step had a 
spring to it that I hadn't seen for 
years. It was as if the years of wait- 
ing were falling away from both of 
us now. 

"I wish they'd come," she said. 
"I can hardly wait to see their faces 
when we tell them." 

It was getting late in the after- 
noon. Already the sun was dipping 
down toward the desert horizon. It 
was hard to wait. In some ways it 
was harder to be patient these last 
few hours than it had been during 
all those years we'd wanted to go 

"Look," Martha said suddenly. 
"There's a car now." 

Then I saw the car too, coming 
quickly toward us. It pulled up in 
front of the house and stopped and 
Duane stepped out. 

"Well, hello there, Mr. Farwell," 
he called. "All ready for the trip?" 

I nodded. Suddenly, now that he 
was here, I couldn't say anything 
at all. 

He must have seen how excited 
we were. By the time he was inside 
the veranda door he'd reached into 
his wallet and pulled out a long en- 

"Here's your schedule," he said. 
"Your tickets are all made out for 
next week's flight." 

Martha's hand crept into mine. 
"You've been so kind," she whis- 



WE WENT into the house and 
smiled at each other while 
Duane admired the furniture and 
the farming district in general and 
our place in particular. We hardly 
heard what he was saying. 

When the doorbell rang we 
stared at each other. For a minute 
I couldn't think who it might be. 
I'd forgotten our guests and their 
surprise party, even the anniversary 
itself had slipped my mind. 

"Hello in there," John Emery 
called. "Come on out, you two." 

Martha pressed my hand once 
more. Then she stepped to the door 
and opened it. 

"Happy anniversary!" 

We stood frozen. We'd expected 
only a few visitors, some of our 
nearest neighbors. But the yard was 
full of people. They crowded up 
our walk and in the road and more 
of them were still piling out of cars. 
It looked as if everyone in the dis- 
trict was along. 

"Come on out," Emery called. 
"You too, Duane." 

The two men smiled at each 
other knowingly, and for just a mo- 
ment I had time to wonder why. 

Then Martha clutched my arm. 
"You tell him, Lewis." 

"John," I said. "We have a sur- 
prise for you too — " 

He wouldn't let me finish. He 
took hold of my arm with one hand 
and Martha's with the other and 
drew us outside where everyone 
could see us. 

"You can tell us later, Lewis," he 
said. "First we have a surprise for 

"But wait—" 

They crowded in around us, 
laughing and waving and calling 

"Happy anniversary". We couldn't 
resist them. They swept us along 
with them down the walk and into 
one of the cars. 

I looked around for Duane. He 
was in the back seat, smiling some- 
what nervously. Perhaps he thought 
that this was normal farm life. 

"Lewis," Martha said, "where 
are they taking us?" 

"I don't know . . ." 

The cars started, ours leading the 
way. It was a regular procession 
back to the village, with everyone 
laughing and calling to us and tell- 
ing us how happy we were going to 
be with our surprise. Every time 
we tried to ask questions, John 
Emery interrupted. 

"Just wait and see," he kept say- 
ing. "Wait and see . . .'-* 

AT THE END of the village 
square they'd put up a platform. 
It wasn't very big, nor very well 
made, but it was strung with yards 
of bunting and a huge sign that 
said, "Happy Anniversary, Lewis 
and Martha." 

We were pushed toward it, car- 
ried along by the swarm of people. 
There wasn't any way to resist. 
Martha clung to my arm, pressing 
close against me. She was trembling 

"What does it mean, Lewis?" 

"I wish I knew." 

They pushed us right up onto the 
platform and John Emery followed 
us up and held out his hand to quiet 
the crowd. I put my arm around 
Martha and looked down at them. 
Hundreds of people. All in their 
best clothes. Our friends's children 
and grandchildren, and even great- 




"I won't make a speech," John 
Emery said when they were finally 
quiet. "You know why we're here 
today — all of you except Lewis and 
Martha know. It's an anniversary. 
A big anniversary. Thirty-five years 
today since our fathers — and you 
two — landed here on Mars . . ." 

He paused. He didn't seem to 
know what to say next. Finally he 
turned and swept his arm past the 
platform to where a big canvas-cov- 
ered object stood on the ground. 

"Unveil it," he said. 

The crowd grew absolutely quiet. 
A couple of boys stepped up and 
pulled the canvas off. 

"There's your surprise," John 
Emery said softly. 

It was a statue. A life-size statue 
carved from the dull red stone of 
Mars. Two figures, a man and a 
woman, dressed in farm clothes, 
standing side by side and looking 
out across the square toward the 
open desert. 

They were very real, those fig- 
ures. Real, and somehow familiar. 

"Lewis," Martha whispered. 
"They're—they're us!" 

She was right. It was a statue of 
us. Neither old nor young, but age- 
less. Two farmers, looking out for- 
ever across the endless Martian des- 
ert .. . 

There was an inscription on the 
base, but I couldn't quite make it 
out. Martha could. She read it, 
slowly, while everyone in the crowd 
stood silent, listening. 

"Lewis and Martha Farwell," 
she read. "The last of the pio- 
neers — " Her voice broke. "Under- 
neath," she whispered, "it says — the 
first Martians. And then it lists 

them — us . . ." 

She read the list, all the names of 
our friends who had come out on 
that first ship. The names of men 
and women who had died, one by 
one, and left their farms to their 
children — to the same children who 
now crowded close about the plat- 
form and listened to her read, and 
smiled up at us. 

She came to the end of the list 
and looked out at the crowd. 
"Thank you," she whispered. 

They shouted then. They called 
out to us and pressed forward and 
held their babies up to see us. 

I LOOKED out past the people, 
across the flat red desert to the_ 
horizon, toward the spot in the east" 
where the Earth would rise, much 
later. The dry smell of Mars had 
never been stronger. 

The first Martians . . . 

They were so real, those carved 
figures. Lewis and Martha Far- 
well . . . 

"Look at them, Lewis," Martha 
said softly. "They're cheering us. 

She was smiling. There^ were 
tears in her eyes, but her smile was 
bright and proud and shining. 
Slowly she turned away frc>m me 
and straightened, staring otft over 
the heads of the crowd across the 
desert to the east. She stood with 
her head thrown back arid her 
mouth smiling, and she was as 
proudly erect as the statue that was 
her likeness. 

"Martha," I whispered. "How 
can we tell them goodbye?" 

Then she turned to face me, and 
I could see the tears glistening in 



Ih-i t\*. "We can't leave, Lewis. 
N i alter this." 

>lic was right, of course. We 
Miiildn't leave. We were symbols. 
Tlic last of the pioneers. The first 
Martians. And they had carved 
their symbol in our image and 
made us a part of Mars forever. 

I glanced down, along the rows 
of upturned, laughing faces, search- 
ing for Duane. He was easy to find. 
He was the only one who wasn't 
shouting. His eyes met mine, and I 
didn't have to say anything. He 
knew. He climbed up beside me on 
the platform. 

I tried to speak, but I couldn't. 

"Tell him, Lewis," Martha whis- 
pered. "Tell him we can't go." 

Then she was crying. Her smile 
was gone and her proud look was 
gone and her hand crept into mine 
and trembled there. I put my arm 
around her shoulders, but there was 
no way I could comfort her. 

"Now we'll never go," she 
sobbed. "We'll never get home . . ." 

I don't think I had ever realized, 
until that moment, just how much 
it meant to her — getting home. 
Much more, perhaps, than it had 
ever meant to me. 

The statues were only statues. 
They were carved from the stone of 
Mars. And Martha wanted Earth. 
We both wanted Earth. Home . . . 

I looked away from her then, 
back to Duane. "No," I said. 
"We're still going. Only — " I broke 
off, hearing the shouting and the 
cheers and the children's laughter. 
"Only, how can we tell them?" 

Duane smiled. "Don't try to, Mr. 
Farwell," he said softly. "Just wait 
and see." 

He turned, nodded to where 

John Emery still stood at the edge 
of the platform. "All right, John." 

Emery nodded too, and then he 
raised his hand. As he did so, the 
shouting stopped and the people 
stood suddenly quiet, still looking 
up at us. 

"You all know that this is an 
anniversary," John Emery said. 
"And you all know something else 
that Lewis and Martha thought 
they'd kept as a surprise — that this 
is more than an anniversary. It's 

I stared at him. He knew. All of 
them knew. And then I looked at 
Duane and saw that he was smiling 
more than ever. 

"They've lived here on Mars for 
thirty-five years," John Emery said. 
"And now they're going back to : 

Martha's hand tightened on 
mine. "Look, Lewis," she cried. 
"Look at them. They're not angry. 
They're — they're happy for us!" 

John Emery turned to face us. 
"Surprised?" he said. 

I nodded. Martha nodded too. 
Behind him, the people cheered 

"I thought you would be," Em- 
ery said. Then, "I'm not very good 
at speeches, but I just wanted you 
to know how much we've enjoyed 
being your neighbors. Don't forget 
us when you get back to Earth." 

IT WAS a long, long trip from 
Mars to Earth. Three months 
on the ship, thirty-five million 
miles. A trip we had dreamed about 
for so long, without any real hope 
of ever making it. But now it was 
over. We were back on Earth. Back 



where we had started from. 

"It's good to be alone, isn't it, 
Lewis?" Martha leaned back in 
her chair and smiled up at me. 

I nodded. It did feel good to be 
here in the apartment, just the two 
of us, away from the crowds and 
the speeches and the official wel- 
comes and the flashbulbs popping. 

"I wish they wouldn't make such 
a fuss over us," she said. "I wish 
they'd leave us alone." 

"You can't blame them," I said, 
although I couldn't help wishing 
the same thing. "We're celebrities. 
What was it that reporter said 
about us? That we're part of his- 
tory . . ." 

She sighed. She turned away 
from me and looked out the win- 
dow again, past the buildings and 
the lighted traffic ramps and the 
throngs of people bustling by out- 
side, people who couldn't see in 
through the one-way glass, people 
whom we couldn't hear because the 
room was soundproofed. 

"Mars should be up by now," she 

"It probably is." I looked out 
again, although I knew that we 
would see nothing. No stars. No 
planets. Not even the moon, except 
as a pale half disc peering through 
the haze. The lights from the city 
were too bright. The air held the 
light and reflected it down again, 
and the sky was a deep, dark blue 
with the buildings about us tower- 
ing into it, outlined blackly against 
it. And we couldn't sec the stars . . . 

"Lewis," Martha said slowly. "I 
never thought it would have 
changed this much, did you?" 

"No." I couldn't tell from her 
voice whether she liked the changes 

or not. Lately I couldn't tell much 
of anything from her voice. And 
nothing was the same as we had re- 
membered it. 

Even the Earth farms were 
mechanized now. Factory produc- 
tion lines for food, as well as for 
everything else. It was necessary, of 
course. We had heard all the rea- 
sons, all the theories, all the latest 

"I guess I'll go to bed soon," 
Martha said. "I'm tired." 

"It's the higher gravity." We'd 
both been tired since we got back to 
Earth. We had forgotten, over the 
years, what Earth gravity was like. 

She hesitated. She smiled at me, 
but her eyes were worried. "Lewis 
— are you really glad we came 

It was the first time she had 
asked me that. And there was only 
one answer I could give her. The 
one she expected. 

"Of course, Martha . . ." 

She sighed again. She got up out 
of the chair and turned toward the 
bedroom door, and then she paused 
there by the window looking out at 
the deep blue sky. 

"Are you really glad, Lewis?" 

Then I knew. Or, at least, I 
hoped. "Why, Martha? Aren't 

For one long minute she stood 
beside me, looking up at the Mars 
we couldn't see. And then she 
turned to face me once again, and I 
could see the tears. 

"Oh, Lewis, I want to go home !" 

Full circle. We had both come 
full circle these last few hectic 
weeks on Earth. 

"So do I, Martha." 

"Do you, Lewis?" And then the 



lircdncss came back to her eyes and 
she looked away again. "But of 
course we can't." 

Slowly I crossed over to the desk 
and opened the top drawer and 
took out the folder that Duane had 
given me, that last day at the space- 
port, just before our ship to Earth 
had blasted off. Slowly I unfolded 
the paper that Duane had told me 
to keep in case we ever wanted it. 

"Yes, we can, Martha. We can 

go back." 

"What's that, Lewis?" And then 
she saw what it was. Her face came 
alive again, and her eyes were shin- 
ing. "We're going home?" she whis- 
pered. "We're really going home?" 

I looked down at the Earth-Mars 
half of the round trip ticket that 
Duane had given me, and I knew 
that this time she was right. 

This time we'd really be going 

■ THE END - 


(Continued from page 69) 

But in the middle of his talk he 
broke off suddenly. A flash of blind- 
ing brilliance slashed through the 
windows. Horror painted his face. 
In a whisper, he cried: "No! No! 
It would make it all so senseless!" 
His eyes looked like the eyes of a 
man with flaming splinters jammed 
under his fingernails. His face 
seemed to pucker, and grow infan- 
tile. Then he screamed: "No! 
Leave me alone! I told you I didn't 
want to come out here, to be one 
of you! Damn you, why did you 
bring me out here? For — for 
this? ..." 

There were the shards of glass 
from the great auditorium win- 
dows, floating inward, turning lazi- 
ly. There were the brick walls 
crumbling, tumbling inward, scat- 
tering through the air in the same 
seeming slow motion. The dust 
cloud and the sound, the flat blast- 
sound, came after that, as the en- 
tire building — perhaps the world — 

disintegrated in the feye-searing 
light . . . 

December 8th, 1952, Two-Thirty 

The flat of a rubber-gloved hand 
striking flesh made a splatting 
noise. A thin, breathless but con- 
centrated crying followed. The doc- 
tor looked down at his charity clinic 
patient, the woman under the 
bright delivery room lights. 

"Look at him — fighting like a lit- 
tle demon!" the doctor said. 
"Seemed almost as though he 
didn't want to come out and join 
us . . . What's the matter, son? This 
is a bright, new, wonderful world 
to be born into . . . What are you 
going to call the boy, Mrs. McKin- 

The woman under the lights 
forced a tired smile. "Jeff. Jefferson 
McKinney. That's going to be his 
name," she whispered proudly. 

The baby's terrified squalling 
subsided into fretful, whimpering 

- THE END - 

The atomic bomb meant, to most people, the end. 
To Henry Bemis it meant something far different 
— a thing to appreciate and enjoy. 

Time Enough At Last 

By Lynn VenaMe 

FOR A LONG time, Henry 
Bemis had had an ambition. 
To read a book. Not just the title 
or the preface, or a page some- 
where in the middle. He wanted 
to read the whole thing, all the way 
through from beginning to end. A 
simple ambition perhaps, but in the 
cluttered life of Henry Bemis, an 

Henry had no time of his own. 
There was his wife, Agnes who 
owned that part of it that his em- 
ployer, Mr. Carsville, did not buy. 
Henry was allowed enough to get to 
and from work — that in itself being 
quite a concession on Agnes' part. 

Also, nature had conspired 
against Henry by handing him with 
a pair of hopelessly myopic eyes. 
Poor Henry literally couldn't see his 
hand in front of his face. For a 
while, when he was very young, his 
parents had thought him an idiot. 
When they realized it was his eyes, 
they got glasses for him. He was 
never quite able to catch up. There 

was never enough time. It looked 
as though Henry's ambition would 
never be realized. Then something 
happened which changed all that. 

Henry was down in the vault of 
the Eastside Bank & Trust when it 
happened. He had stolen a few 
moments from the duties of his 
teller's cage to try to read a few 
pages of the magazine he had 
bought that morning. He'd made 
an excuse to Mr. Carsville about 
needing bills in large denomina- 
tions for a certain customer, and 
then, safe inside the dim recesses of 
the vault he had pulled from inside 
his coat the pocket size magazine. 

He had just started a picture ar- 
ticle cheerfully entitled "The New 
Weapons and What They'll Do To 
YOU", when all the noise in the 
world crashed in upon his ear- 
drums. It seemed to be inside of 
him and outside of him all at once. 
Then the concrete floor was rising 
up at him and the ceiling came 
slanting down toward him, and for 




a fleeting second Henry thought of 
a story he had started to read once 
called "The Pit and The Pendu- 
lum". He regretted in that insane 
moment that he had never had 
time to finish that story to see how 
it came out. Then all was darkness 
and quiet and unconsciousness. 

WHEN HENRY came to, he 
knew that something was 
desperately wrong with the East- 
side Bank & Trust. The heavy steel 
door of the vault was buckled and 
twisted and the floor tilted up at a 
dizzy angle, while the ceiling 
dipped crazily toward it. Henry 
gingerly got to his feet, moving 
arms and legs experimentally. As- 
sured that nothing was broken, he 
tenderly raised a hand to his eyes. 
His precious glasses were intact, 
thank God! He would never have 
been able to find his way out of the 
shattered vault without them. 

He made a mental note to write 
Dr. Torrance to have a spare pair 
made and mailed to him. Blasted 
nuisance not having his prescrip- 
tion on file locally, but Henry trust- 
ed no-one but Dr. Torrance to 
grind those thick lenses into his 
own complicated prescription. Hen- 
ry removed the heavy glasses from 
his face. Instantly the room dis- 
solved into a neutral blur. Henry 
saw a pink splash that he knew was 
his hand, and a white blob come up 
to meet the pink as he withdrew his 
pocket handkerchief and carefully 
dusted the lenses. As he replaced 
the glasses, they slipped down on 
the bridge of his nose a little. He 
had been meaning to have them 
tightened for some time. 

He suddenly realized, without 
the realization actually entering his 
conscious thoughts, that something 
momentous had happened, some- 
thing worse than the boiler blowing 
up, something worse than a gas 
main exploding, something worse 
than anything that had ever hap- 
pened before. He felt that way be- 
cause it was so quiet. There was no 
whine of sirens, no shouting, no 
running, just an ominous and all 
pervading silence. 

HENRY walked across the slant- 
ing floor. Slipping and stum- 
bling on the uneven surface, he 
made his way to the elevator. The 
car lay crumpled at the foot of the 
shaft like a discarded accordian. 
There was something inside of it 
that Henry could not look at, some 1 - 
thing that had once been a person, 
or perhaps several people, it was 
impossible to tell now. 

Feeling sick, Henry staggered 
toward the stairway. The steps were 
still there, but so jumbled and piled 
back upon one another that it was 
more like climbing the side of a 
mountain than mounting a stair- 
way. It was quiet in the huge cham- 
ber that had been the lobby of the 
bank. It looked strangely cheerful 
with the sunlight shining through 
the girders where the ceiling had 
fallen. The dappled sunlight glint- 
ed across the silent lobby, and ev- 
erywhere there were huddled lumps 
of unpleasantness that made Henry 
sick as he tried not to look at them. 

"Mr. Carsville," he called. It was 
very quiet. Something had to be 
done, of course. This was terrible, 
right in the middle of a Monday, 



too. Mr. Carsville would know 
what to do. He called again, more 
loudly, and his voice cracked 
hoarsely, "Mr. Carrrrsville !" And 
then he saw an arm and shoulder 
extending out from under a huge 
fallen block of marble ceiling. In 
the buttonhole was the white carna- 
tion Mr. Carsville had worn to 
work that morning, and on the 
third finger of that hand was a mas- 
sive signet ring, also belonging to 
Mr. Carsville. Numbly, Henry real- 
ized that the rest of Mr. Carsville 
was under that block of marble. 

Henry felt a pang of real sorrow. 
Mr. Carsville was gone, and so was 
the rest of the staff — Mr. Wilkin- 
son and Mr. Emory and Mr. 
Prithard, and the same with Pete 
and Ralph and Jenkins and Hunter 
and Pat the guard and Willie the 
doorman. There was no one to say 
what was to be done about the 
Eastside Bank & Trust except Hen- 
ry Bemis, and Henry wasn't worried 
about the bank, there was some- 
thing he wanted to do. 

He climbed carefully over piles 
of fallen masonry. Once he stepped 
down into something that crunched 
and squashed beneath his feet and 
he set his teeth on edge to keep 
from retching. The street was not 
much different from the inside, 
bright sunlight and so much con- 
crete to crawl over, but the unpleas- 
antness was much, much worse. 
Everywhere there were strange, mo- 
tionless lumps that Henry could not 
look at. 

Suddenly, he remembered Agnes. 
He should be trying to get to Ag- 
nes, shouldn't he? He remembered 
a poster he had seen that said, "In 
event of emergency do not use the 

telephone, your loved ones are as 
safe as you." He wondered about 
Agnes. He looked at the smashed 
automobiles, some with their four 
wheels pointing skyward like the 
stiffened legs of dead animals. He 
couldn't get to Agnes now anyway, 
if she was safe, then, she was safe, 
otherwise ... of course, Henry 
knew Agnes wasn't safe. He had a 
feeling that there wasn't anyone 
safe for a long, long way, maybe 
not in the whole state or the whole 
country, or the whole world. No, 
that was a thought Henry didn't 
want to think, he forced it from his 
mind and turned his thoughts back 
to Agnes. 

SHE HAD been a pretty good 
wife, now that it was all said 
and done. It wasn't exactly her 
fault if people didn't have time to 
read nowadays. It was just that 
there was the house, and the bank, 
and the yard. There were the Jones' 
for bridge and the Graysons' for ca- 
nasta and charades with the 
Bryants. And the television, the 
television Agnes loved to watch, but 
would never watch alone. He never 
had time to read even a newspaper. 
He started thinking about last 
night, that business about the news- 

Henry had settled into his chair, 
quietly, afraid that a creaking 
spring might call to Agnes' atten- 
tion the fact that he was momen- 
tarily unoccupied. He had unfold- 
ed the newspaper slowly and care- 
fully, the sharp crackle of the paper 
would have been a clarion call to 
Agnes. He had glanced at the head- 
lines of the first page. "Collapse Of 



(', .nfrrrncc Imminent." He didn't time to read the article. He 
turned to the second page. "Solon 
Predicts War Only Days Away." 
He flipped through the pages faster, 
reading brief snatches here and 
there, afraid to spend too much 
time on any one item. On a back 
page was a brief article entitled, 
"Prehistoric Artifacts Unearthed In 
Yucatan". Henry smiled to himself 
and carefully folded the sheet of 
paper into fourths. That would be 
interesting, he would read all of it. 
Then it came, Agnes' voice. "Hen- 
rrreeef" And then she was upon 
him. She lightly flicked the paper 
out of his hands and into the fire- 
place. He saw the flames lick up 
and curl possessively around the 
unread article. Agnes continued, 
"Henry, tonight is the Jones' bridge 
night. They'll be here in thirty min- 
utes and I'm not dressed yet, and 
here you are . . . reading." She had 
emphasized the last word as though 
it were an unclean act. "Hurry and 
shave, you know how smooth Jasper 
Jones' chin always looks, and then 
straighten up this room." She 
glanced regretfully toward the fire- 
place. "Oh dear, that paper, the 
television schedule ... oh well, after 
the Jones leave there won't be time 
for anything but the late-late 
movie and . . . Don't just sit there, 
Henry, hurrreeee!" 

Henry was hurrying now, but 
hurrying too much. He cut his leg 
on a twisted piece of metal that had 
nine lieen an automobile fender. 
He tln>ii!;ht about things like lock- 
jaw and gangrene and his hand 
trembled as he tied his pocket- 
handkerchief around the wound. In 
his mind, he saw the fire again, 

licking across the face of last night's 
newspaper. He thought that now 
he would have time to read all the 
newspapers he wanted to, only now 
there wouldn't be any more. That 
heap of rubble across the street had 
been the Gazette Building. It was 
terrible to think there would never 
be another up to date newspaper. 
Agnes would have been very upset, 
no television schedule. But then, of 
course, no television. He wanted to 
laugh but he didn't. That wouldn't 
have been fitting, not at all. 

He could see the building he was 
looking for now, but the silhouette 
was strangely changed. The great 
circular dome was now a ragged 
semi-circle, half of it gone, and one 
of the great wings of the building 
had fallen in upon itself. A sudden 
panic gripped Henry Bemis. What 
if they were all ruined, destroyed, 
every one of them? What if there 
wasn't a single one left? Tears of 
helplessness welled in his eyes as he 
painfully fought his way over and 
through the twisted fragments of 
the city. 

|TE THOUGHT of the building 
H. when it had been whole. He re- 
membered the many nights he had 
paused outside its wide and wel- 
coming doors. He thought of the 
warm nights when the doors had 
been thrown open and he could see 
the people inside, see them sitting 
at the plain wooden tables with the 
stacks of books beside them. He 
used to think then, what a wonder- 
ful thing a public library was, a 
place where anybody, anybody at 
all could go in and read. 

He had been tempted to enter 



many times. He had watched the 
people through the open doors, the 
man in greasy work clothes who 
sat near the door, night after night, 
laboriously studying, a technical 
journal perhaps, difficult for him, 
but promising a brighter future. 
There had been an aged, scholarly 
gentleman who sat on the other side 
of the door, leisurely paging, mov- 
ing his lips a little as he did so, a 
man having little time left, but rich 
in time because he could do with it 
as he chose. 

Henry had never gone in. He had 
started up the steps once, got al- 
most to the door, but then he re- 
membered Agnes, her questions and 
shouting, and he had turned away. 

He was going in now though, al- 
most crawling, his breath coming 
in stabbing gasps, his hands torn 
and bleeding. His trouser leg was 
sticky red where the wound in his 
leg had soaked through the hand- 
kerchief. It was throbbing badly 
but Henry didn't care. He had 
reached his destination. 

Part of the inscription was still 
there, over the now doorless en- 
trance. P-U-B-C L-I-B-R— . The 
rest had been torn away. The place 
was in shambles. The shelves were 
overturned, broken, smashed, tilted, 
their precious contents spilled in 
disorder upon the floor. A lot of the 
books, Henry noted gleefully, were 
still intact, still whole, still read- 
able. He was literally knee deep in 

them, he wallowed in books. He 
picked one up. The title was "Col- 
lected Works of William Shake- 
speare." Yes, he must read that, 
sometime. He laid it aside carefully. 
He picked up another. Spinoza. He 
tossed it away, seized another, and 
another, and still another. Which 
to read first . . . there were so many. 

He had been conducting himself 
a little like a starving man in a deli- 
catessen — grabbing a little of this 
and a little of that in a frenzy of 

But now he steadied away. From 
the pile about him, he selected one 
volume, sat comfortably down on 
an overturned shelf, and opened 
the book. 

Henry Bemis smiled. 

There was the rumble of com- 
plaining stone. Minute in compari- 
son which the epic complaints fol- 
lowing the fall of the bomb. This 
one occurred under one corner of 
the shelf upon which Henry sat. 
The shelf moved; threw him off 
balance. The glasses slipped from 
his nose and fell with a tinkle. 

He bent down, clawing blindly 
and found, finally, their smashed 
remains. A minor, indirect destruc- 
tion stemming from the sudden, 
wholesale smashing of a city. But 
the only one that greatly interested 
Henry Bemis. 

He stared down at the blurred 
page before him. 

He began to cry. 


Personalities in Science 


ACCORDING to Einstein, the 
history of physical science, has 
brought forth four' great scientists 
■ — Galileo, Newton, Maxwell and 
Faraday — and Einstein is a man 
who should know. 

Of these, Galileo and Newton are 
probably the most famous. Perhaps 
Maxwell wielded the most, influ- 
ence in his own time. But in the 
realm of things physical for the 
benefit of posterity, Faraday was by 
far the greatest. 

Faraday was born in London in 
the year 1791 — long before General 
Electric and Westinghouse began 
gleaning likely young men from col- 
leges and placing them in shiny 
laboratories. His father was a black- 
smith, who became an invalid and 
died in Michael's youth leaving the 
boy's mother with no alternative 
but to take in boarders for the sup- 
port of her family. 

They were deeply religious peo- 
ple, sober-minded and hardworking 
—traits which remained ingrained 
in Faraday until his death. He be- 
gan showing his talents quite early 
when, by chance, he was thrown 
into contact with books. This came 
about in his thirteenth year when 

he got work in the rooms of one 
Masquerier, a French refugee flee- 
ing the wrath of Napoleon. Fara- 
day's jobs were to keep Mas- 
querier' s shoes shined and his rooms 
orderly. This gave the youth an op- 
portunity to browse through the 
Frenchman's library. He practically 
memorized two encyclopedias on 
electricity and digested Marcet's 
Conversations on Chemistry in 
great gobs. 

Now, young Faraday begged and 
borrowed, from his elder brother, 
the necessary admission fees to at- 
tend scientific lectures where ever 
and whenever he could find them. 
His activities are remindful of the 
present day teen-age fan who idol- 
izes a current glamour personality, 
forms fan clubs and whatnot. 

Faraday formed no clubs, but he 
was not backward in contacting his 
idols. He wrote a letter to no less 
an august personage than Sir 
Joseph Banks, the President of the 
Royal Society. Sir Joseph neglected 
to answer, but that is of no great 
importance. Later, he would have 
been glad to visit Faraday in per- 

Young Faraday's persistence 
payed off, however, when he at- 
tended a lecture by the great Sir 




Humphry Davy — with a pencil and 
a ream or two of notepaper under 
his arm. He took notes on Davy's 
lecture — 386 pages of them. These, 
he had delivered to Davy along 
with a note stating that he, Fara- 
day, wished to devote his life to 
science, and could Davy be of any 
assistance in the project. 

Davy, one of the most eccentric 
geniuses who ever lived, was also a 
warm human being. Davy replied 
to Faraday in the formal, stilted 
manner of the day: 


I am far from displeased with the 
proof you have given me of your 
confidence, and which displays 
great zeal, power of memory, and 
attention. I am obliged to go out of 
town, and will not be settled in 
town until the end of January. I 
will then see you at any time you 

It would gratify me to be of any 
service to you. I wish it may be in 
my power. 

I am, sir, your obedient, humble 

H. Davy 

This was not at all unlike a 
science fiction fan getting an invita- 
tion to drop around from Ray 
Bradbury or Robert Heinlein. You 
may rest assured that Faraday took 
full advantage of it. 

Davy could be of assistance, to 
the extent of getting Faraday a job 
as assistant in the laboratory of the 
Royal Institution. Thus did Davy, 
unknowingly, render his greatest 
service to humanity . 

So, at the age of twenty-one, 
Faraday became established at the 
Institution and Davy, no doubt de- 

lighted that his casual favor to a 
letter-writing youth had paid off in 
such rich material, took Faraday 
on a tour of Europe — a grand tour, 
as Davy, the big name in the scien- 
tific fields of his time, did not travel 
without notice. Upon returning to 
England, Faraday became a lec- 
turer in the Royal Institution, and 
was launched upon his life work. 

THE SCIENTISTS of the time 
were engrossed in the mysteries 
of electricity. Faraday's keen mind 
cut like a knife into these mysteries. 
He suspected the close relationship 
between electricity and magnetism. 
None of the active scientists of the 
time had paid much attention to 
this avenue of research, although 
Orsted, the brilliant Swede, had 
experimented in that direction. 

Orsted was the first to suggest 
that motion should be obtainable 
from the interaction of magnetism 
and electricity. Faraday drove re- 
lentlessly along these avenues, ex- 
perimenting exhaustively, building 
upon the work of both Orsted and 
Ampere. Writing of his own work, 
Faraday said : 

" . . . so all the usual attractions 
and repulsions of the magnetic 
needle by the conjunctive wire are 
deceptions, the motions being not 
attractions nor repulsions . . . but 
the result of a force in the wire 
which, instead of bringing the pole 
of the needle nearer to, or further 
from the wire, endeavors to make it 
move around it in a never ending 
circle and motion while the battery 
remains in action." 



From this statement of his obser- 
vational results, Faraday invented 
the electric motor and established 
his immortality. 

But all was not sweetness and 
light. Faraday's sense of personal 
triumph was dulled by a reversal 
upon the part of Humphry Davy. 
The trouble sprang from Faraday's 
inadvertent conflict with the work 
of Davy and Wollaston. Both these 
scientists were plodding along over 
the route Faraday covered with a 
speed which bespoke his genius. 

When Faraday's name was pro- 
posed for membership in the Royal 
Society it was — ironically enough — 
Sir Humphry Davy who asked Far- 
aday to withdraw. Faraday replied 
that it was beyond his power to 
withdraw, which was true, but 
Davy, as President of the august 
organization, had all the power he 
needed to block Faraday. 

However, in the year 1824, Fara- 
day was elected to the Society and 
stood at last, on par in all respects, 
with all the greats of his time. 

He was fated to clash again with 
Davy, over the liquefaction of 
chlorine. Davy had discovered, be- 
yond doubt, the knowledge that 
the solid substance obtained by ex- 
posing chlorine to low temperatures 
was not chlorine, but a combination 
of elements in which chlorine was 
no longer alone. Davy had not ana- 
lyzed this combination however, 
and Faraday did. Also, he followed 
Davy's suggestion that heat, applied 
to the specimens, might bring in- 
tt'tcsiing results. 

Faraday applied the heat and 
tame up with liquid chlorine. He 
then wrote a paper upon the experi- 
ment and the discovery — a paper 

which passed through Davy's hands 
as President of the Society. Davy 
blandly appended a few para- 
graphs, taking full credit for the 

Faraday said nothing, biding his 
time. Later he wrote an account of 
all the investigators who had lique- 
fied chlorine before either himself 
or Davy. 

All semblance of cordiality be- 
tween Davy and Faraday now rup- 
tured completely. Hard times fell 
upon the Society, and Faraday be- 
came occupied with the necessity of 
struggling along upon less money 
than previously. But this did not 
slow down his productivity. 

His papers on chemical investi- 
gations poured out in a broad 
stream. During the decade follow- 
ing 1820, when he made his great 
discovery relative to electro-mag- 
netism, Faraday published little 
upon electricity, but his experi- 
ments went on. He made copious 
notes for current and future experi- 
ence, indicating that while he con- 
centrated upon chemical research, 
his heart had been given to the 
elusive witch of invisible power 
who mocked scientific brains with 
her vagaries. 

He began exhaustive investiga- 
tions into the possibility of convert- 
ing magnetism into electricity. The 
epochal discovery of electro-mag- 
netic induction was the result. This 
discovery served as a pivotal point 
in scientific progress. 

This could have been enough for 
any man, but like a great scientist 
who came later, Thomas Alva Edi- 
son, Faraday felt a man's produc- 
tivity should be terminated only by 
(Continued on page 110) 

In order to make Izaak Walton's sport complete, 
there must be an angler, a fish, and some bait. 
All three existed on Arz but there was a question as 
to which was which. 

The Anglers of Arz 

By Roger Dee 

Illustrated by BOB MARTIN 

THE THIRD night of the 
Marco Four's landfall on the 
moonless Altarian planet was a 
repetition of the two before it, a 
nine-hour intermission of drowsy, 
pastoral peace. Navigator Arthur 
Farrell — it was his turn to stand 
watch — was sitting at an open-side 
port with a magnoscanner ready; 
but in spite of his vigilance he had 
not exposed a film when the in- 
evitable pre-dawn rainbow began 
to shimmer over the eastern ocean. 

Sunrise brought him alert with a 
jerk, frowning at sight of two 
pinkish, bipedal Arzian fishermen 
posted on the tiny coral islet a 
quarter-mile offshore, their blank 
triangular faces turned stolidly to- 
ward the beach. 

"They're at it again," Farrell 
called, and dropped to the mossy 
turf outside. "Roll out on the dou- 
ble! I'm going to magnofilm this!" 

Stryker and Gibson came out of 

their sleeping cubicles reluctantly, 
belting on the loose shorts which all 
three wore in the balmy Arzian 
climate. Stryker blinked and 
yawned as he let himself through 
the port, his fringe of white hair 
tousled and his naked paunch 
sweating. He looked, Farrell 
thought for the thousandth time, 
more like a retired cook than like 
the veteran commander of a Ter- 
ran Colonies expedition. 

Gibson followed, stretching his 
powerfully-muscled body like a 
wrestler to throw off the effects of 
sleep. Gibson was linguist-ethnolo- 
gist of the crew, a blocky man in his 
early thirties with thick black hair 
and heavy brows that shaded a 
square, humorless face. 

"Any sign of the squids yet?" he 

"They won't show up until the 
dragons come," Farrell said. He ad- 
justed the light filter of the mag- 




noscanner and scowled at Stryker. 
"Lee, I wish you'd let me break up 
the show this time with a dis-beam. 
This butchery gets on my nerves." 

Stryker shielded his eyes with his 
hands against the glare of sun on 
water. "You know I can't do that, 
Arthur. These Arzians may turn out 
to be Fifth Order beings or higher, 
and under Terran Regulations our 
tampering with what may be a 
basic culture-pattern would amount 
to armed invasion. We'll have to 
crack that cackle-and-grunt lan- 
guage of theirs and learn something 
of their mores before we can inter- 

Farrell turned an irritable stare 
on the incurious group of Arzians 
gathering, nets and fishing spears 
in hand, at the edge of the shelter- 
ing bramble forest. 

"What stumps me is their mo- 
tivation," he said. "Why do the 
fools go out to that islet every night, 
when they must know damned well 
what will happen next morning?" 

Gibson answered him with an 
older problem, his square face puz- 
zled. "For that matter, what became 
of the city I saw when we came in 
through the stratosphere? It must 
be a tremendous thing, yet we've 
searched the entire globe in the 
scouter and found nothing but 
water and a scattering of little 
islands like this one, all covered 
with bramble. It wasn't a city these 
pink fishers could have built, either. 
The architecture was beyond them 
by a million years." 

STRYKER and Farrell traded 
baffled looks. The city had be- 
come something of a fixation with 

Gibson, and his dogged insistence — 
coupled with an irritating habit of 
being right — had worn their pa- 
tience thin. 

"There never was a city here, 
Gib," Stryker said. "You dozed off 
while we were making planetfall, 
that's all." 

Gibson stiffened resentfully, but 
Farrell's voice cut his protest short. 
"Get set! Here they come!" 

Out of the morning rainbow 
dropped a swarm of winged lizards, 
twenty feet in length and a glisten- 
ing chlorophyll green in the early 
light. They stooped like hawks upon 
the islet offshore, burying the two 
Arzian fishers instantly under their 
snapping, threshing bodies. Then 
around the outcrop the sea boiled 
whitely, churned to foam by a sud- 
den uprushing of black, octopoid 

"The squids," Stryker grunted. 
"Right on schedule. Two seconds 
too late, as usual, to stop the slaugh- 

A barrage of barbed tentacles 
lashed out of the foam and drove 
into the melee of winged lizards. 
The lizards took the air at once, 
leaving behind three of their num- 
ber who disappeared under the 
surface like harpooned seals. No 
trace remained of the two Arzian 

"A neat example of dog eat dog," 
Farrell said, snapping off the mag- 
noscanner. "Do any of those beau- 
ties look like city-builders, Gib?" 

Chattering pink natives straggled 
past from the shelter of the thorn 
forest, ignoring the Earthmen, and 
lined the casting ledges along the 
beach to begin their day's fishing. 

"Nothing we've seen yet could 

There were two pinkish, bipedal fishermen on the tiny islet. 



h.ive built that city," Gibson said 
siu!)bornly. "But it's here some- 
where, and I'm going to find it. 
Will either of you be using the 
scouter today?" 

Stryker threw up his hands. "I've 
a mountain of data to collate, and 
Arthur is off duty after standing 
watch last night. Help yourself, but 
you won't find anything." 

The scouter was a speeding dot 
on the horizon when Farrell crawled 
into his sleeping cubicle a short 
time later, leaving Stryker to mutter 
over his litter of notes. Sleep did 
not come to him at once; a vague 
sense of something overlooked 
prodded irritatingly at the back of 
his consciousness, but it was not 
until drowsiness had finally over- 
taken him that the discrepancy as- 
sumed definite form. 

He recalled then that on the first 
day of the Marco's planetfall one 
of the pink fishers had fallen from 
a casting ledge into the water, and 
had all but drowned before his fel- 
lows pulled him out with extended 
spear-shafts. Which meant that the 
fishers could not swim, else some 
would surely have gone in after 

And the Marco's crew had ex- 
plored Arz exhaustively without 
finding any slightest trace of boats 
or of boat landings. The train of as- 
sociation completed itself with auto- 
matic logic, almost rousing Farrell 
out of his doze. 

"I'll be damned," he muttered. 
"No boats, and they don't swim. 
Tiirn how the devil do they get out 
tn thai islet?" 

He fell asleep with the paradox 

STRYKER was still humped 
over his records when Farrell 
came out of his cubicle and broke a 
packaged meal from the food 
locker. The visicom over the control 
board hummed softly, its screen 
blank on open channel. 

"Gibson found his lost city yet?" 
Farrell asked, and grinned when 
Stryker snorted. 

"He's scouring the daylight side 
now," Stryker said. "Arthur, I'm 
going to ground Gib tomorrow, 
much as I dislike giving him a direct 
order. He's got that phantom city 
on the brain, and he lacks the 
imagination to understand how 
dangerous to our assignment an ob- 
session of that sort can be." 

Farrell shrugged. "I'd agree with 
you offhand if it weren't for Gib's 
bullheaded habit of being right. I 
hope he finds it soon, if it's here. I'll 
probably be standing his watch un- 
til he's satisfied." 

Stryker looked relieved. "Would 
you mind taking it tonight? I'm 
completely bushed after today's log- 

Farrell waved a hand and took 
up his magnoscanner. It was dark 
outside already, the close, soft night 
of a moonless tropical world whose 
moist atmosphere absorbed even 
starlight. He dragged a chair to the 
open port and packed his pipe, set- 
tling himself comfortably while 
Stryker mixed a nightcap before 
turning in. 

Later he remembered that Stryk- 
er dissolved a tablet in his glass, 
but at the moment it meant noth- 
ing. In a matter of minutes the 
older man's snoring drifted to him, 
a sound faintly irritating against 
the velvety hush outside. 



Farrell lit his pipe and turned to 
the inconsistencies he had uncov- 
ered. The Arzians did not swim, 
and without boats . . . 

It occurred to him then that 
there had been two of the pink 
fishers on the islet each morning, 
and the coincidence made him sit 
up suddenly, startled. Why two? 
Why not three or four, or only one? 

He stepped out through the open 
lock and paced restlessly up and 
down on the springy turf, feeling 
the ocean breeze soft on his face. 
Three days of dull routine logwork 
had built up a need for physical 
action that chafed his temper; he 
was intrigued and at the same time 
annoyed by the enigmatic relation 
that linked the Arzian fishers to the 
dragons and squids, and his desire 
to understand that relation was ag- 
gravated by the knowledge that Arz 
could be a perfect world for Terran 
colonization. That is, he thought 
wryly, if Terran colonists could 
stomach the weird custom pursued 
by its natives of committing suicide 
in pairs. 

He went over again the improb- 
able drama of the past three morn- 
ings, and found it not too unnatural 
until he came to the motivation and 
the means of transportation that 
placed the Arzians in pairs on the 
islet, when his whole fabric of 
speculation fell into a tangled snarl 
of inconsistencies. He gave it up 
finally; how could any Earthman 
rationalize the outlandish compul- 
sions that actuated so alien a race? 

He went inside again, and the 
sound of Stryker's muffled snoring 
fanned his restlessness. He made his 
decision abruptly, laying aside the 
magnoscanner for a hand-flash and 

a pocket-sized audicom unit which 
he clipped to the belt of his shorts. 

He did not choose a weapon be- 
cause he saw no need for one. The 
torch would show him how the na- 
tives reached the outcrop, and if he 
should need help the audicom 
would summon Stryker. Investigat- 
ing without Stryker's sanction was, 
strictly speaking, a breach of Ter- 
ran Regulations, but — 

"Damn Terran Regulations," he 
muttered. "I've got to know." 

Farrell snapped on the torch at 
the edge of the thorn forest and en- 
tered briskly, eager for action now 
that he had begun. Just inside the 
edge of the bramble he came upon 
a pair of Arzians curled up together 
on the mossy ground, sleeping 
soundly, their triangular faces 
wholly blank and unrevealing. 

He worked deeper into the un- 
derbrush and found other sleeping 
couples, but nothing else. There 
were no humming insects, no twit- 
tering night-birds or scurrying ro- 
dents. He had worked his way close 
to the center of the island without 
further discovery and was on the 
point of turning back, disgusted, 
when something bulky and power- 
ful seized him from behind. 

A sharp sting burned his shoul- 
der, wasp-like, and a sudden over- 
whelming lassitude swept him into 
a darkness deeper than the Arzian 
night. His last conscious thought 
was not of his own danger, but of 
Stryker — asleep and unprotected 
behind the Marco's open port. . • . 

HE WAS standing erect when 
he woke, his back to the open 
sea and a prismatic glimmer of 



' iil>. <! iwn rainbow shining on the 
v, .in i hi lore him. For a moment he 
was totally disoriented; then from 
flu- corner of an eye he caught the 
pinkish blur of an Arzian fisher 
standing beside him, and cried out 
hoarsely in sudden panic when he 
1 1 nd to turn his head and could not. 

He was on the coral outcropping 
offshore, and except for the in- 
voluntary muscles of balance and 
respiration his body was paralyzed. 

The first red glow of sunrise 
blurred the reflected rainbow at his 
feet, but for some seconds his shut- 
tling mind was too busy to consider 
the danger of predicament. What- 
ever brought me here anesthetized 
me first, he thought. That sting in 
my shoulder was like a hypo needle. 

Panic seized him again when he 
remembered the green flying- 
lizards; more seconds passed before 
he gained control of himself, sweat- 
ing with the effort. He had to get 
help. If he could switch on the au- 
dicom at his belt and call 
Stryker . . . 

He bent every ounce of his will 
toward raising his right hand, and 

His arm was like a limb of lead, 
its inertia too great to budge. He re- 
laxed the effort with a groan, sweat- 
ing again when he saw a fiery half- 
disk of sun on the water, edges 
blurred and distorted by tiny sur- 
face ripples. 

On shore he could see the Marco 
Four resting between thorn forest 
and beach, its silvered sides glisten- 
ing with dew. The port was still 
open, and the empty carrier rack 
in the bow told him that Gibson 
had not yet returned with the 

He grew aware then that sensa- 
tion was returning to him slowly, 
that the cold surface of the audicom 
unit at his hip — unfelt before — was 
pressing against the inner curve of 
his elbow. He bent his will again 
toward motion; this time the arm 
tensed a little, enough to send hope 
flaring through him. If he could put 
pressure enough against the stud . . . 

The tiny click of its engaging 
sent him faint with relief. 

"Stryker!" he yelled. "Lee, roll 
out — Stryker!" 

The audicom hummed gently, 
without answer. 

He gathered himself for another 
shout, and recalled with a chill of 
horror the tablet Stryker had mixed 
into his nightcap the night before. 
Worn out by his work, Stryker had 
made certain that he would not be 
easily disturbed. 

The flattened sun-disk on the 
water brightened and grew round- 
er. Above its reflected glare he 
caught a flicker of movement, a 
restless suggestioa of flapping 

HE TRIED again. "Stryker, 
help me! I'm on the islet!" 

The audicom crackled. The voice 
that answered was not Stryker's, but 

"Farrell! What the devil are you 
doing on that butcher's block?" 

Farrell fought down an insane 
desire to laugh. "Never mind that — 
get here fast, Gib! The flying- 
lizards — " 

He broke off, seeing for the first 
time the octopods that ringed the 
outcrop just under the surface of \ 
the water, waiting with barbed ten- | 



tacles spread and yellow eyes study- 
ing him glassily. He heard the un- 
mistakable flapping of wings be- 
hind and above him then, and 
thought with shock-born lucidity: 
I wanted a backstage look at this 
show, and now I'm one of the cast. 

The scouter roared in from the 
west across the thorn forest, flash- 
ing so close above his head that he 
felt the wind of its passage. Almost 
instantly he heard the shrilling blast 
of its emergency bow jets as Gibson 
met the lizard swarm head on. 

Gibson's voice came tinnily from 
the audicom. "Scattered them for 
the moment, Arthur — blinded the 
whole crew with the exhaust, I 
think. Stand fast, now. I'm going 
to pick you up." 

The scouter settled on the out- 
crop beside Farrell, so close that the 
hot wash of its exhaust gases 
scorched his bare legs. Gibson put 
out thick brown arms and hauled 
him inside like a straw man, ig- 
noring the native. The scouter 
darted for shore with Farrell lying 
across Gibson's knees in the cock- 
pit, his head hanging half overside. 

Farrell had a last dizzy glimpse of 
the islet against the rush of green 
water below, and felt his shaky 
laugh of relief stick in his throat. 
Two of the octopods were swim- 
ming strongly for shore, holding the 
rigid Arzian native carefully above 
water between them. 

"Gib," Farrell croaked. "Gib, 
can you risk a look back? I think 
I've gone mad." 

The scouter swerved briefly as 
Gibson looked back. "You're all 
right, Arthur. Just hang on tight. 
I'll explain everything when we get 
you safe in the Marco." 

Farrell forced himself to relax, 
more relieved than alarmed by the 
painful pricking of returning sen- 
sation. "I might have known it, 
damn you," he said. "You found 
your lost city, didn't you?" 

Gibson sounded a little disgusted, 
as if he were still angry with himself 
over some private stupidity. "I'd 
have found it sooner if I'd had any 
brains. It was under water, of 

IN THE Marco Four, Gibson 
routed Stryker out of his cubicle 
and mixed drinks around, leaving 
Farrell comfortably relaxed in the 
padded control chair. The paralysis 
was still wearing off slowly, easing 
Farrell's fear of being permanently 

"We never saw the city from the 
scouter because we didn't go high 
enough," Gibson said. "I realized 
that finally, remembering how they 
used high-altitude blimps during 
the First Wars to spot submarines, 
and when I took the scouter up far 
enough there it was, at the ocean 
bottom — a city to compare with 
anything men ever built." 

Stryker stared. "A marine city? 
What use would sea-creatures have 
for buildings?" 

"None," Gibson said. "I think 
the city must have been built ages 
ago — by men or by a manlike race, 
judging from the architecture — and 
was submerged later by a sinking of 
land masses that killed off the orig- 
inal builders and left Arz nothing 
but an oversized archipelago. The 
squids took over then, and from all 
appearances they've developed a 
culture of their own." 



"I don't see it," Stryker com- 
plained, shaking his head. "The 
pink fishers — " 

"Are cattle, or less," Gibson fin- 
ished. "The octopods are the domi- 
nant race, and they're so far above 
Fifth Order that we're completely 
out of bounds here. Under Terran 
Regulations we can't colonize Arz. 
It would be armed invasion." 

"Invasion of a squid world?" 
Farrell protested, baffled. "Why 
should surface colonization conflict 
with an undersea culture, Gib? 
Why couldn't we share the planet?" 

"Because the octopods own the 
islands too, and keep them policed," 
Gibson said patiently. "They even 
own the pink fishers. It was one of 
the squid-people, making a dry- 
land canvass of his preserve here 
to pick a couple of victims for this 
morning's show, that carried you 
off last night." 

"Behold a familiar pattern shap- 
ing up," Stryker said. He laughed 
suddenly, a great irrepressible bel- 
low of sound. "Arz is a squid's 

world, Arthur, don't you see? And 
like most civilized peoples, they're 
sportsmen. The flying-lizards are 
the game they hunt, and they raise 
the pink fishers for — " 

Farrell swore in astonishment. 
"Then those poor devils are put 
out there deliberately, like worms 
on a hook — angling in reverse! No 
wonder I couldn't spot their mo- 

Gibson got up and sealed the 
port, shutting out the soft morning 
breeze. "Colonization being out of 
the question, we may as well move 
on before the octopods get curious 
enough about us to make trouble. 
Do you feel up to the acceleration, 

Farrell and Stryker looked at 
each other, grinning. Farrell said: 
"You don't think I want to stick 
here and be used for bait again, 
do you?" 

He and Stryker were still grin- 
ning over it when Gibson, un- 
amused, blasted the Marco Four 
free of Arz. 

- THE END • 


(Continued from page 102) 

death. He drove on and on with the 
heroic patience, triumphs, and dis- 
appointments which are the every- 
day lot of the inquiring mind. 
Nor was he cut off early, as were 

so many of his brilliant con- 
temporaries. He died quietly, at the 
age of seventy-five years, leaving 
behind a heritage for which the 
world will be forever grateful. 

No conceivable force could penetrate 
Terri' s shield. Yet he was defenseless. 


By Gordon R. Dickson 

T WAS A nice little party, but 
a bit obvious. Terri Mac saw 
through it before he had taken half 
a dozen steps into the apartment. A 
light flush staining his high cheek- 
bones. "This is ridiculous," he said. 

The light chatter ceased. Cock- 
tail glasses were set down on vari- 
ous handy tables and ledges; and 
all faces in the room turned toward 
a man in his late fifties who sat 
propped up invalid-wise on pillows 
in a chair in a corner of the room. 

"The Comptroller is perspica- 
cious," said the old man, agree- 
ably, waving one hand in a casual 
manner. "On your way, children." 

And the people present smiled 
and nodded. Quite as if it were an 
ordinary leave-taking, they pushed 
past Terri Mac and filed out the 
door. Even the blonde, Terri had 
picked up at the embassy ball and 
who had brought him here, strolled 
off casually, but in a decidedly less 
drunken fashion than she had ex- 

hibited earlier in the evening. 

"Sit down," said the old man. 
Terri Mac did so, gazing searching- 
ly at the skinny frame and white 
eyebrows in an unsuccessful effort 
to connect him with something in 
memory. "This is ridiculous," he 

"Really?" The old man smiled 
benignly. "And why so?" 

"Why — " the situation was so 
obvious that Terri fumbled — a little 
at a loss for words. "Obviously you 
intend some form of coercion, or 
else you would have come to me 
along recognized channels. And any 
thought of coercion is obviously — 
well, ridiculous." 


"Why? You senile old fool, don't 
you know that I'm shielded? Don't 
you know all government officials 
from the fifth class up wear com- 
plete personal shields that are not 
only crack -proof but contain all 
the necessary elements to support 




life independently within the shield 
for more than twenty hours? Don't 
you know that I'll be missed in two 
hours at the most and tracked down 
in less than sixty minutes more? 
Are you crazy?" 

The old man chuckled, rubbing 
dry hands together. He said. "I'm 
shielded too. You can't get at me. 
And now the room's shielded. You 
can't get out of it." 

Terri stared at him. The initial 
shock was passing. His own state- 
ments anent the completeness of his 
protection had brought back confi- 
dence, and his natural coolness was 
returning. "What do you want?" he 
asked, eyeing the other narrowly. 

"Pleasure of your company," 
said the old man. "There are some 
very strong connections between us. 
Yes, very strong. We must get to 
know each other personally." 

IT OCCURRED to Terri that he 
had misinterpreted the situation. 
Relief came, mixed with a certain 
amount of chagrin at the way in 
which he allowed himself to show 
alarm. He had looked ridiculous. 
He leaned back in the chair and 
allowed a note of official hauteur 
and annoyance to creep into his 
voice. "I see," he said. "You want 

The old man nodded energeti- 

"I do. Indeed I do." 

"And you think you have some 
kind of a bargaining tool that is use- 
ful but might not be so if it became 
known to official channels." 

"Well — " said the old man cau- 

"Don't waste my time," inter- 

rupted Terri, harshly. "I'm not an 
ordinary politician. No man who 
works his way up to the fifth level 
of the government is. I didn't get 
to where I am today by pussy-foot- 
ing around and I haven't the leisure 
to spend on people who do. Now 
what do you want?" 

The other cackled. "Now, what 
do you think?" he said, putting one 
finger to his nose cunningly. 

"You are old," Terri said. "And 
therefore cautious. Consequently 
you would not risk trying to force 
something from me, but are almost 
certainly trying to sell me some- 
thing. Now what do I want? Not 
the usual things, certainly. Within 
my position I have all the material 
things a man could want ; and with- 
in my shield I enjoy complete im- 
munity. No one but the Central 
Bureau, itself, can crack this shield. 
And no one but they can prevent 
the conditioned reflex that stops my 
heart if for some reason the shield 
should be broached. I have a hold 
on every man beneath me that pre- 
vents him from knifing me in the 
back. There could be only one thing 
that I want that you could give me 
— " he leaned forward, staring into 
the deep-pouched eyes — "and that 
is a means of getting at the man 
above me. Am I right?" 

"No," said the old man. 

Terri stiffened. 

"No?" he echoed in angry in- 

Their eyes locked. For a long 
time they held, and at last Terri 
looked away. 

The old man sighed — sipped 
noisily from a drink on the table 
beside his chair. 

"Wait!" said Terri. To his own 



surprise, his voice was eager, even a 
little timorous in its hopefulness. 
"Wait. I've got it. There will be a 
test. There always is a test every 
time a man moves up. His superiors 
watch him when he doesn't suspect 
it. It will be that way for me when 
I am ready for the fourth level. And 
you have some kind of advance in- 
formation. You know what the test 
will be. Maybe you know the man 
who will administer it. You want 
to sell me this information." 

The other said nothing. 

"Well," Terri spread his hands 
openly. "I am interested. I'll buy. 
What do you want. Money? A fa- 
vor? Protection?" 


"No?" Terri shouted, starting up 
from his chair. "What do you mean 
by no? Can't you say anything but 
'no'?" A rage possessed him. He 
flung himself forward two furious 
steps to stand threateningly over 
the aged figure. "You doddering 
idiot! Say what you want, and 
quickly! My two hours are nearly 
up. I'll be missed. They'll be here 
in a few minutes — the Bureau 
Guards. They'll crack the room 
shield. They'll rescue me. And 
they'll take you into custody. To be 
questioned. To be executed. At my 
order. Do you understand? Your 
life depends on me." 

After a little, the old man chuck- 
led again. "Yes," he muttered, in 
a high-pitched old voice. "That's 
the way it'll be." 

Terri stared at him. "You don't 
seem to understand. You're going to 

"Oh yes," said the old man, nod- 
ding his head indulgently. "I'll die. 
But I'm an old man. I'd die any- 

way in a year or so — maybe in a day 
or so. But for you — for a young 
man like you — the up and coming 
young governmental with every- 
thing to lose — " he leered slyly at 
Terri. "Your death won't be so easy 
for you to take." 

"I die?" echoed Terri, stupefied. 
"But I'm not going to die. They're 
coming to rescue me." 

"Oh, are they?" said the old 
man, ironically. 

"Of course!" said Terri. "Of 
course, why shouldn't they?" 

The old man winked one faded 
eye portentously. 

"Fine young man," he said. "Up 
and coming young man. Brilliant. 
Never a thought for the people he 
trampled on the way up the lad- 
der. Dear me, no." 

"What do you mean?" said 

The old eyes, looking up sudden- 
ly, pierced him. 

"Do you remember Kilaren?" 


"Kilaren," recited the old man 
as if quoting from a newspaper. 
"The beautiful young secretary of 
a provincial governor whose lecher- 
ous and unnatural pursuit drove 
her to suicide. So that one day to 
escape the governor, she jumped or 
fell from a high window. And the 
people of the province, who had 
for a long time heard ugly stories 
and rumors, finally mobbed the 
office and lynched the governor, 
hanging him from the same win- 
dow from which the girl had 
jumped. They said that even the 
fall had not spoiled her beauty, but 
that was probably false." The old 
man's words dwindled away into 



"1 what of it?" said Terri. 
"U 1 1. it's that to do with me?" 

"Why, you were there. You were 
the governor's aide, and when the 
mob had gone home and feeling 
had slackened off, you stepped into 
the gap and seized up the reins of 
government, handling matters so 
skillfully that you were immediately 
promoted to an under-post at 
Government City." 

"What of it?" 

"Why it was all your doing," re- 
plied the other, in a mildly reprov- 
ing voice, "the rumors, the stories, 
the mob, even the suicide. Poor 
Kilaren — a pitiful pawn in your 
ruthless game to eliminate the gov- 
ernor in your mad dash up the 

"I never touched her!" cried 
Terri, his voice cracking. "I swear 

"Who said you did? The type of 
mind that stoops to murder would 
never have gotten you this far. But 
you were the one who hired her, 
knowing the governor's tendencies. 
You were the one that gave her 
work that kept her, night after 
night, alone with the man. You 
preyed upon her fear of losing her 
job. You threw the sin in her face 
after she had committed it. You 
told her what she might have been, 
and what she was, and what she 
would be. You broke her, day after 
day. In the sterile privacy of the 
office you reviled her, scorned her, 
brought her to believe that she was 
what she was not, a creature of 
filth and dishonor. You blocked off 
all avenues of escape but the one 
that led through one high window. 
You killed her!" 



TERRI brought his quivering 
hands together and clenched 
them in his lap. He stared at the old 
man. "Who are you?" 

"I was a friend of hers. We lived 
in the same hotel-apartment. She 
had no family. I believe you knew 
that when you hired her." 

"I see," said Terri. He drew a 
long, deep, shuddering breath, and 
leaned back in the chair. "So that's 
the story," he said, his voice 
strengthening, "I might have 
known it. Blackmail. There are al- 
ways fools that want to try black- 

"No," said the old man. "Not 
Blackmail, Comptroller. I want 
your life." 

Terri laughed shortly, contemp- 
tuously. "No knowledge that you 
have can threaten my life." 

"They will come," said the old 
man, leaning wearily back against 
his cushions. "As you said, the 
Bureau Guards will come; and I 
think I shall kill myself when I 
hear them starting to crack the 
shield around this room. They will 
come in and find you with a dead 
man. What will you tell them, 

"Tell them? Anything I choose. 
They won't question me." 

"No. The guards won't. But the 
Bureau will. How can they raise a 
man to the fourth level when there 
is a two-hour mystery in his backr 
ground? They will want to know 
what you were doing here." 

"I was kidnaped," said Terri. 

"By whom? Can you prove it? 
And why?" 

"I've been held a prisoner here." 

"By a dead man? No, no, Terri. 



The circumstances are suspicious. 
You walk away from the embassy 
under your own power. You disap- 
pear and are found in a shielded 
room with a man who has commit- 
ted suicide. This must be explained, 
and in the end you will have to tell 
them the truth." 

"And what if I do?" said Terri, 

"But the truth is so fantastic, 
Terri. So uncheckable. I am dead, 
and I am the only one who could 
have supported your story. These 
people who were here when you 
came in are common actors. They 
have no idea why I wanted you de- 
coyed here. These are my rooms. 
And there is no obvious connection 
between me and the dead Kilaren. 
And perhaps I will decide to live 
just long enough to denounce you 
as a traitor when they enter." 

Ashen-faced, Terri stared. 

"The Bureau will have to ques- 
tion you. They will clamp a block 
on your mind so that you can't 
operate the reflex that stops your 
heart. And they will question you 
over and over again, because the 
Bureau cannot afford to take 
chances. You will go into a private 
hell of your own, Terri Mac. You 
will tell the story of your own evil 
to that girl over and over again, 
pleading to be believed. And they 
will not believe you. And in the end 
they will kill you, just to be on the 
safe side. Because, you see, you 
might have been doing something 

traitorous in these two shielded 

Terri's head bobbed limply, like 
a drunken man's. He made one last 
effort. "Why?" he said. "Why do 
you do this? Your life. For a girl 
who was no connection to you?" 

The old man folded his hands. 

"I was a little like your gover- 
nor," he said. "We all have our 
sins. I loved Kilaren and the shock 
of her death wrecked my health." 
He cocked his head suddenly on 
one side. "Listen," he said. 

From beyond the closed door of 
the room, a high-pitched humming 
was barely audible. It grew in vol- 
ume, going up the scale. Terri 
leaped to his feet ; and for the space 
of a couple of seconds, he lunged 
first this way then that, like a wild 
animal beating against its trap. 
Then, as if all will had at last gone 
out of him, he stopped in the mid- 
dle of the room and closed his eyes. 
For a fraction of a moment he 
stood there, before a faint convul- 
sion seized him and he fell. 

With a faint smile on his face, 
the old man reached out to a hid- 
den switch and cut the shield about 
the room. Uniformed guards tum- 
bled through the door, to pull up in 
dismay at the sight of the body on 
the floor. 

"I'm sorry," said the old man, "I 
must have turned the shield on by 
mistake. I was trying to signal 
someone. The Comptroller seems 
to have had a heart attack." 




Lunatic- Detector 

J- GRAPH is now a familiar medi- 
cal machine used widely in analyz- 
ing mental and physical illnesses. 
Essentially, it is nothing more than 
a very sensitive amplifier fitted with 
electrodes which, placed against the 
patient's skull, are capable of pick- 
ing up the minute "brain-waves" to 
which the electrical activity of the 
brain constantly gives rise. These 
brain waves may be reproduced on 
an oscilloscope like that of a tele- 
vision tube, or they may be photo- 
graphed, or they may be charted on 
graph paper. 

Medical investigators admit the 
usefulness of the electroencephalo- 
graph but wonder why it can't be 
used as a "predictor" as well as an 
analyzer. Detailed study resulting 
from this suggestion has determined 
that, not only can the electroen- 
cephalograph analyze mental flaws, 
but it can also detect them in 
advance of their occurrence! 

The uses of this, of course, sug- 
gest themselves automatically. How 
all-important it is to detect the be- 
ginnings of a mental crack-up in in- 
dividuals who have great responsi- 
bility, particularly where lives of 
people are concerned! Think of 
what it would mean as a safety fac- 

tor regarding bus drivers, engineers, 
airline pilots, executives, or any 
others who hold in their hands the 
lives and fortunes of hundreds of 
people at a time! Such persons 
should be exposed to encephalo- 
graphic examination in order to 
sense or detect the slightest disturb- 
ance which might lead them to 
crack-up while on the job. It is not 
a matter of determining sanity or 
insanity ; rather it is purely a matter 
of detecting strong emotional dis- 
turbances which, appearing clearly 
upon the encephalograph's screen, 
aid in the prediction of emotional 
behavior and, possibly, help avert 
terrible accidents or other tragedies. 

Nereid, Satellite of Neptune 

NEREID, THE second Moon of 
cold, remote Neptune, was dis- 
covered only two years ago but al- 
ready astronomers have managed to 
plot out its not conventional orbit. 
The first Moon of Neptune, fa- 
miliar old Triton, circles the planet 
at a reasonable distance of about 
two hundred and twenty thousand 
miles and in all other respects 
seems representative of the general 
system of satellites throughout the 
Solar System. 

But Nereid is another matter. 
The orbit of this little moon ap- 
proaches as close as a million miles 
to Neptune and recedes as far as 
six million miles ! The orbit is three 
times as long as it is wide, giving 
an elliptical effect, much like that 
of a cometary orbit rather than a 

Triton is about the same size as 
our own Moon, but Nereid has to 
be different even here. It is only 


about a fifteenth as massive as 
Luna. Nereid might be character- 
ized as "a little squib rotating in a 
drunken orbit." 

No technical reasons have yet 
been divined to account for this ex- 
treme eccentricity. The formation 
of such a perverse orbit may indi- 
cate that the satellite is a captured 
sub-planet or it may imply some 
possibility of collision. Any such 
theorization awaits much closer ob- 
servation of the actual path, since 
Nereid takes not quite an Earth- 
year to circle its mother planet. 

Chain Of Waves 

CROWDED IN the back pages 
of newspapers all over the coun- 
try, so obscure that most readers 
scarcely noticed it, was an impor- 
tant announcement, an announce- 
ment which shows just how far 
technology has jumped ahead. The 
micro-wave link between the East 
and West Coasts has been com- 
pleted! The first means of com- 
munication to use it was the tele- 
phone, but the prime purpose of 
the relay link is, of course, tele- 

The micro-wave ultra-high-fre- 
quency radio relaying system is a 
miracle of applied electronics. All 
across the country, at intervals of 
about a hundred miles, are erected 
two-hundred-foot towers of con- 
crete (to overcome line-of -sight 
problems) topped by large horn- 
shaped antennas. Each tower is a 
remotely controlled, automatically 
operated self-contained receiving 
and broadcasting station. A pro- 
gram originating in New York 
travels via these tight beams of 
high-frequency radio waves from 


tower to tower where, each time, it 
is picked up, amplified and re- 
broadcast, all in a fractional thou- 
sandth of a second ! 

The system is highly practical, 
because the high-frequency radio 
waves carrying the television im- 
pulses are not just broadcast in a 
circular pattern. Instead, the tre- 
mendously directional antennas, 
like gridded horns, about ten feet 
on a side, focus these beams into 
extremely narrow searchlights, 
sending them in a straight line to 
the next tower, where the process 
is repeated. 

Some measure of the extreme 
directivity of the beams can be got 
from the fact that each tower 
broadcasts its beam with a power 
of only one-half watt! 

When interplanetary travel is 
finally accomplished, it is a certain- 
ty that communication will -take 
place through micro-waves. An or- 
dinary beam traversing inter- 
planetary space would spread out 
in far too random a manner, so 
that no transmitters conceivable 
could possibly supply the energy 
needed to travel millions of miles. 
But micro-waves using "micro- 
watts" of power could do this, and 
hence interplanetary communica- 
tion over "tight-beam" systems is 
perfectly feasible. The step from 
spanning a country to spanning 
space is easy. The Signal Corps peo- 
ple who bounced radio waves off 
the Moon were using broad beams 
in comparison — which accounts for 
the enormous amount of power 
they had to use in the radar appara- 
tus. But, given micro-waves with 
tight-beam antennas, they'll do the 
same thing on a flashlight cell's 
power! —Charles Recour 





Dear Editor: 

Your definition (of science fic- 
tion) as delivered to Marion Fried 
via the Chat with the Editor — I 
disagree with you. I think that the 
science fiction story IS a basic. It 
is distinctly different from any 
other type of fiction. To fit into 
your basic types, I would loosely 
put in the problem story. Real 
science fiction does contain a prob- 
lem, a problem extrapolated from 
today's science. And when I say 
"science" I don't mean only physics 
or chemistry, but biology, botany, 
psychiatry, etc. 

The story then is made up of re- 
solving the problem, or the central 
character's seeing the problem and 
finding his place in it. It differs 
from the ordinary problem story 
(example: detective "whodunit" 
story) in that survival is a part of 
the story. That is, it moves from 
the philosophical to the actual (ac- 
tual in relation to the characters) 
and has a life-or-death meaning. 

If your definition of a science fic- 
tion story is something that is only 
a kind of background then I can 

expect IF to publish only those 
stories dealing with jungles and 
swords and mortgages altered 
semantically to "extraterrestrial 
fastnesses", "portable energy weap- 
ons", and "planetary rights". 

I still think stf is written around 
a problem, an extrapolated prob- 
lem. The best way to say it might 

Science fiction is "What would 
happen if — ". 

You MUST have the same be- 
liefs in mind yourself, but got a 
little muddled semantically while 
trying to find a deft, one sentence 
meaning. You named the magazine 
IF. "If" is what makes science fic- 
tion possible. If there were no "If" 
there would be only ordinary 
things, no worlds to conquer, no 
atom to smash, no driving, over- 
whelming force that shouts down 
the blazing corridors of time or 
whispers in the deep of the night: 
"What would happen if — " 

And never mind defining science 
fiction. Just keep serving it to us. 
It's largely subjective anyway . . . 
— Dave Hammond 

Runnemede, New Jersey 


Dear sirs: 

Ezra Shaw must have polished 
off a copy of the "Golden Bough" 
and decided, without further ado, 
to set up shop as an anthropologist. 
His explanation of the cave draw- 
ings is mistaken as it is common. 
Shaw represents the old Animal 
Magic theory as if it were an agreed 
upon fact, and actually it is noth- 
ing of the sort. At one time it was 




supposed that all "uncivilized" art 
had to do with superstition. The 
western mind could not admit even 
the possibility of genuine art being 
produced outside of our own cul- 
ture matrix. 

Now we know enough about so- 
called primitive art to differentiate 
between types . . . Though there is 
"magic" art, it is almost without 
exception characterized by abstrac- 
tion, symbolism, and other forms of 
distortion. Mysticism never ex- 
presses itself in realism. The real- 
ism of the cave paintings indicates 
an entirely different sort of mind 
than that which practices magic. 
The men who drew those pictures 
were realists. 

It is not necessary to investigate 
other cultures to find the truth of 
the statement that religious art is 
always distortionistic. The history 
of art in our own culture bears this 
out fully. True, many artists who 
worked on religious projects were 
realistic in the extreme, but a study 
of their lives reveals that they them- 
selves were far from "true be- 
lievers". True religious art is char- 
acterized by the complex surrealism 
of Bosch or the elongated and 
warped figures of El Greco ... or 
the African sculpture from which 
Picasso developed Cubism. Realism 
is typified by Thomas Eakins, the 
American who studied anatomy to 
the point of cutting up bodies. Re- 
ligious artists are not interested in 
portraying things as they are, they 
wish to show what things MEAN. 

That is what convinces me that 
the cave art had little or nothing 
to do with magic. Why did they 
work, way back in those days, at 
such great difficulty? Why does an 

artist of today go to such trouble 
to use only the best materials. To 
make the picture last, of course. 
The cave man has certainly been 
successful, if that was his aim. I 
realize that I am being just as dog- 
matic in my statements as the 
"magic" school of thought repre- 
sented in Shaw's article, but I feel 
that while his position rests solely 
on prejudice, mine rests upon ob- 
vious observable fact which appears 
to hold true for all art known. 
What could be more obvious than 
that a superstitious painter would 
paint supernatural pictures, and 
that only a realist would strive for 

Our picture of these cave artists 
needs a good going over with the 
spotlight of factual analysis, and 
when, if ever, the results come in, 
I feel quite sure that those cave 
artists will be acknowledged as 
some of the LEAST superstitious 
people in the history of mankind. 

— Ray Nelson, 
Chicago, 111. 


Dear Sir: 

While I am not qualified to cri- 
ticize the whole article (July Sci- 
ence Briefs) . . . the presence of 
one paragraph which I know to be 
completely erroneous casts serious 
doubt upon the rest. Consider the 
following: "The statuary which is 
today produced by the witch doc- 
tors of many of the African and 
Pacific island tribes. . ." This state- 
ment contains serious distortions. 

( 1 ) In West Africa, most "statu- 
ary" is made by wood-carvers, iron- 



workers, and brass-casters, none of 
■\tiMin art' "witch doctors" in any 
< use of the term, and most of 
whom are full-time specialists in 
their trades — perhaps professions 
would be a better word. 

(2) Throughout the Pacific, 
wood-carving, the dominant me- 
dium for statuary, is done mainly 
by part-time specialists, although 
nowhere in the Pacific is specializa- 
tion as highly developed as it is in 

(3) The term "witch doctor" is 
a term which is no longer part of 
the vocabulary of anyone with any 
anthropological training. Having, 
as it does, derogatory connotations, 
it is a decidedly misleading term to 
apply to the native religious special- 
ists of Africa, the Pacific, or any 
other part of the primitive world. 

The last point merits some am- 
plification. First of all, while Afri- 
cans usually believe in witches, 
those who are believed to be prac- 
ticing witchcraft are almost in- 
variably outside the conventional 
religious system of the community. 
In addition, most African religious 
cults have a degree of sophistica- 
tion, and the belief systems a rea- 
sonable enough inner logic to per- 
mit them to be ranked with any of 
the pantheistic systems of the classi- 
cal world. We would not apply the 
term "witch doctor" to priests of 
the classical pantheistic religions — 
or, for that matter, to priests of the 
Hindu cults — and there is no more 
reason to do so in the case of the 
African religious functionaries. 

Regarding this "statuary," Shaw 
says: "Invariably obscene and re- 
pulsive, the images depicted have 

unusually fat bodies, with the sex- 
ual features exaggerated, and faces 
blank." This statement conforms 
exactly to a popular stereotype, and 
is completely false — and I say this 
in full realization of the fact that 
it is, in part at least, an aesthetic 
judgment. It is certainly not in- 
variably true, and I doubt that it is 
true as a whole of more than a few 
isolated cases. I have seen some life- 
sized brass-cast heads from Nigeria 
which are of considerable age, and 
which rival in beauty and sensitiv- 
ity of treatment the best of classic 
Greek sculpture. These are admit- 
tedly exceptional — they are not in 
conformity with the general tradi- 
tion of West African Art. But the 
best of West African brass-casting 
and wood-carving is, by anyone's 
standards, artistry of a high order. 
The fact that the artistic conven- 
tions which it observes differ from 
our own should not blind us to the 
skill and artistry that can be found 
in primitive art. 

I am, therefore, at a loss con- 
cerning the identity of the "authori- 
ties" whose judgment it is that 
". . . these figurines are completely 
lacking in the qualities which make 
us rate the work of the cave man 
painters and draftsmen with the 
best that has ever been done." I'm 
sure that were Shaw to examine 
any significant quantity of African 
and Pacific art — -with the eye of a 
critic rather than that of a layman 
— he would readily agree that his 
"authorities" had not done so them- 
selves before forming their judg- 

— Edward E.LeClair, Jr. 
Evanston, Illinois 

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Amer/con Museum of Natural History 

COOLING SUN FREEZES WORLD — Another conception of what 
would happen to Earth under a cooling sun instead of an expand- 
ing one. With expiring solar energy, our planet would become a 
great glob of frozen matter encrusted in ice, killing every form 
of life. Here, the artist envisions New York harbor under such 




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